If I had a euro for every time I’ve received a query from a school who bought iPads without having WiFi, I’d probably have enough to buy an iPad myself! The companies selling iPads, one might argue, should not assume that primary schools in Ireland are blessed with WiFi. The government does not even offer it by default in new build schools. Even if you have WiFi, the chances are if you are in 60% of schools, that the speed of the Internet running through them is inadequate. That’s not to mention the extra cost of hooking them up to projectors, buying a server so they all sync, buying some sort of charging unit, and so on.
Anyway, back to WiFi, the bad news is that your best bet is going to cost you a fair whack of money. For a 16 classroom school, you’re talking anything between €10,000 and €15,000. An 8 classroom school could be around the €6,000 mark. This outlay will get a professional heat-mapped WiFi set up where no part of the school is left without connection.
In terms of providers, I think it’s important to get a networking specialist, rather than your local IT guy. I’d also recommend you get one as local as possible or one that will be able to respond to any problems within 24 hours.
There are cheaper ways around this but they are unreliable and insecure. Sadly, when you’re buying iPads, there’s lots more to consider than just the cost of the iPads.