HP Laptop not suitable as BYOD device

One of the products supplied as part of our BYOD scheme – the HP 15-d001AU Notebook has proved to be a dog.  13 Wanganui families with Year 8 students selected a laptop device on the recommendation of the local secondary school.  As families are going to take 18 months to pay off these devices, they wanted to be sure that the devices would continue to be useful as their children move into the secondary system. Tania spent a weekend imaging the notebooks with Office 365, so that students had access to the Microsoft Office suite even if they didn’t have an internet connection; she estimated that this took at least two person-hours per machine, as Office 365 needs to be individually downloaded and licensed using a school key.

So far so good, but the poor performance of these devices is creating real problems for the students when it comes to using them in class.  For example, students need a device that boots up quickly and these devices don’t.  Closer investigation reveals that the device has an AMD E1-2100 Dual-Core Processor (1.0GHz), which commentators say is laughable and a totally inadequate CPU.

While we try to make it clear that the devices we list are simply the products that are available from Dick Smith in the “affordable” price bracket and that we are not “recommending” these products, it is understandable that families could at least expect the devices to be fit for purpose.

So our plan is to conduct an independent review of products we list on our site and assess their technical and pedagogical suitability; parents can then make a better informed choice.  We will start by trying to identify an affordable laptop device that performs better than the HP 15-d001AU device (which has now been withdrawn, of course, but too late for our Wanganui families.  We will work with Tania to identify a possible solution for this situation.

Some families are asking for more than one BYOD device

Families in some schools are asking if they can procure more than one device through our equity scheme.  The short answer is no – all our processes have been set up for just one device, at least for the pilot programme.  However there are always exceptions – one family in Dunedin had twins, both in the same BYOD class.  So clearly we can’t say “no” in cases like this.  The innovative solution developed by Janine was to get another family member to register and pay for the second device.  In one case it was a separated spouse; in another a grandparent.

So there are ways to say “yes” even when initially we say “no”.  Our rules:

An individual can only purchase one device; they will be allocated a family number and be required to set up an standalone automatic payment.  There is nothing stopping a second adult member of the family purchasing a second device, but it must be registered under their name with a separate AP.  The APs can even come from the same bank account, but must be set up as two separate APs, each clearly identified with the different family numbers.

In Dunedin, one of the families short-circuited this process by following the first set of rules with two family members signing up for devices but then combined the APs into a single $20/week payment for the two devices against just one of the family numbers.  Every week Kristina has to remember who the two linked families are in order to reconcile $10 to one account and $10 to a different account.  This is not easy to do when you are processing hundreds of APs every day, as she is.

If we decide to extend the scheme beyond the pilot we will include an option for purchasing more than one device, but this will still only apply in special circumstances, and only when the family has established a trusted credit record with us.

Tech support for BYOD devices

Our BYOD pilot has thrown up an interesting issue about responsibilities for tech support for the BYOD devices.  As these belong to the 2020 Trust until families pay them off, it is in our interest to ensure the are properly maintained and supported.  Hardware issues are covered by warranty and insurance.  User issues, like lost passwords, are more problematic.  For the pilot programme, CiH Technicians may be contracted to provide user support of this nature, but please ask the techs to include full details of the supported provided on their invoices, i.e. family name, nature of problem, time to fix.  And preferably keep the invoicing separate to other CiH invoicing.

VoIP telephone service over UFB connections

Tania asks: Does the SNAP UFB modem include a DECT phone? On ultrafast will they have option to run phone line directly with SNAP?

The service SNAP is offering us is a Naked UFB connection without phone service.  So no, the service does not include a DECT (VoIP) phone.  However, this will be an option for families when they come to the end of their subsidised internet period without having to invest in a new modem/router.  The unit being supplied by SNAP (AVM 7360) is capable of delivering phone services, but this is not something we want to get involved with. Phone services bring with them variable charges and this makes things just too complicated.  This is no different to the current situation with Naked DSL.

UFB Option available now but some processes need updating

Tania asks: Can we offer this now?

Technically it is available now in the specified UFB regions (except Whangarei, Whakatane and Gisborne).  But we do need to update some of our documentation and processes:

  1. Family internet sign-up form (Di/Briar)
  2. SNAP sign-up portal (SNAP has indicated they expect to address this during the week of 29 September)
  3. Google docs (2014-15) pull down menu of internet options has already been updated

Ivan asks: I have a graduation in Tauranga in a couple of weeks. So I should be signing up those who asked for naked onto UFB? Is SNAP ready to take these new sign ups? The Naked BB option is now off the cards of they can get UFB?

If you already have internet connection sign-ups in process, I wouldn’t turn the clock back.  Better to start explaining the UFB option during training and getting families to make an explicit choice with an understanding of the additional effort (and possibly time) required for a UFB connection, including landlord approval for families in rented accommodation, LFC installation of fibre, etc. Naked BB is still very much an option and will probably remain the dominant option for some time.

I expect SNAP is ready to start taking UFB sign-ups; I have asked them to update the CiH sign-up portal, so when you see UFB appear, go for it!

Naked DSL still an option where UFB not available

Tania asks: If UFB isn’t available at the address do we just revert to a Naked Connection. If so is the Naked connect for 50 Gb as well for the $10 per week?

Yes, Naked DSL is still an option and I expect this will in fact still be the dominant option, as many of our families are not located in the main urban areas, or the UFB roll-out will not have reached their neighbourhood yet.  At this stage the 30GB plus unlimited YouTube data cap still applies to DSL connections, but I am seeking clarification from SNAP if they are willing to increase this to match the UFB offer.  SNAP expects to respond about this during the week starting 29 September,

UFB connections – negotiating with landlords

Tania asks: “Do we have a process diagram for this including what families have to negotiate with landlords to put fibre connections in?   This is easy for single dwelling properties but more difficult for multi dwelling properties.

No we don’t have a process diagram at this stage nor any explanatory literature.  But it might be a good idea to collaborate with SNAP to produce a flyer – something that families could give to their landlords, who will probably have little understanding of what UFB is all about.

In the meantime, we do need to update our Internet sign-up form to include the UFB option and if families are in rental accommodation, ask for contact details for their landlord to pass on to SNAP who in turn will pass the information on to the relevant LFC.  It is the responsibility of the LFC to negotiate with property owners to provide the fibre connection from the street to the house.

No early termination charges for CiH UFB connections

A big concern with UFB connections to date has been the somewhat onerous early termination charges (ETCs) when families move or abandon their connections within the initial 12-month contract period.  All fibre providers (local fibre companies) have the ability to charge ETCs under the terms of the Wholesale Services Agreement with Retail Services Providers (RSPs), SNAP in this case.  Typically the ETC has been calculated at the full cost of the remaining months of service under the 12 month contract; this means that a family moving after 3 months would be required to pay the remaining 9 months in full.

SNAP has negotiated for this charged to be waived for Computers in Homes families, at least to start with.  They can’t guarantee this won’t change in the future, but at least we have a good starting position.

This means we have a more favourable situation for UFB connections than we currently do with DSL connections, where we incur an ETC of $99 (incl GST) when families break their connections during the first 12 months.

UFB option for Computers in Homes Families

SNAP has announced that it will provide UFB internet connections for Computers in Homes families at the same discounted price as Naked DSL, i.e. $60/month (incl GST).  This includes a 50GB monthly data cap (an increase of 20GB over the current 30GB for DSL connections.  CIH coordinators have raised some implementation questions and I will respond to these here so that everyone is getting the same information.

There will be limitations on availability as the UFB roll-out is still in progress, but it is in the interests of CiH families to get a 21st century internet connection (fibre) wherever possible.  You will recall from our visit to the Chorus Lab in Auckland earlier this year that the local fibre company(LFC) – Chorus, Enable, Northpower or Ultrafast Fibre – covers all the costs of installing the fibre connection to the house as well as a termination device called an Optical Network Termination (ONT).  For families living in rental accommodation, the landlord will of course need to give permission for the fibre to be installed from the street to the house, but it is the responsibility of the LFC to get this permission.  This gets quite complicated in multi-tenanted dwellings but that is not our problem to solve. It might be helpful to start capturing information about accommodation ownership at the time families signup for an internet connection.

One difference with DSL connections is that SNAP will be providing the modem /router at a heavily discounted price ($199 incl GST compared to normal retail of $345 incl GST).  While this is a higher cost than we are currently paying the Ark and some other suppliers for modems ($86.25 incl GST), it is a much more robust device and comes as a condition of the SNAP UFB service.

SNAP is currently able to offer the UFB internet service in most towns covered by the UFB rollout.  The only exceptions are Whangarei (due 1 December 2014), Taupo and Whakatane (both due January 2015) and Gisborne and Paraparaumu (both to be confirmed).  Before requesting a UFB service make sure that families are in one of the urban areas covered by UFB, as shown on the Crown Fibre Holdings website.

Further posts will be made to this blog to address specific issues raised by coordinators.