Rural primary schools to get gigabit broadband in £3m government scheme

Written by Sam Trendall on 27 February 2019 in News
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More than 120 schools given the chance to boost their connections

Credit: PA

As many as 120 primary schools in rural areas across England will be equipped with “gigabit-capable broadband” as part of a £3m government pilot programme.

Three schools have already been connected by the scheme, with another 52 set to join them in the coming weeks. A further 72 are interested in taking part, and are currently in discussions with the government.

Gigabit connections allow for download speeds of 1Gb – or 1,000Mb – per second. This is more than 20 times faster than the 46.2Bbps speed that, according to Ofcom data, represents the UK average.


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Minister for digital Margot James said: “This project is a great example of the government’s new ‘outside in’ approach to rolling out full fibre broadband, which is taking gigabit broadband to the hardest to reach rural areas first. As well as making a dramatic difference for students in the classroom, by using the schools as broadband hubs we are also making ultrafast broadband available to thousands of rural homes and businesses across the country more quickly.”

The trio of schools that have already been connected have seen their broadband speeds shoot up from about 0.5Mbps to 100Mbps, the government said. The schools have the capability to upgrade again to gigabit speeds in the future, if they so wish.

The initial speed boost has allowed “whole classes to simultaneously surf the internet on tablets as part of structured lessons”, according to the government. The upgrade will also permit expanded access to training and online learning.

Mary See, Headteacher at Cheselbourne Village School, Dorset said: “Having new super-fast broadband reach our school has revolutionised the way we work. The much faster and reliable access to the web has allowed staff to work more efficiently; while the children, although still geographically remote, are no longer technologically isolated and will have the same opportunities as their urban peers in preparing for a more technological future.”

 

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Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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