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Gigabit Broadband for 3,000 Primary Schools in Rural England

Thursday, June 30th, 2022 (10:30 pm) - Score 672
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The Government has tonight announced that a joint £82m investment by the Departments for Culture (DCMS) and Education (DfE) will mean that, over the next 3 years, as many as 3,000 primary schools across rural England will now get access to broadband (full fibre) speeds of up to 1000Mbps.

The announcement adds a bit more detail to the DfE’s earlier commitment, which in March 2022 pledged to ensure that “every school across the country” would be able to access “high speed internet” by 2025 (here). According to today’s announcement, the £5bn Project Gigabit scheme (GigaHubs programme) will help to fund deployments to about 2,000 of the 3,000 schools, while the DfE will fund the remaining 1,000.

NOTE: Project Gigabit aims to make gigabit-capable (1Gbps+) broadband ISP networks available to at least 85% of UK premises by the end of 2025 and then “at least” 99% by 2030 (here).

The programme, which will effectively benefit an estimated 500,000 primary school pupils, is expected to cover the costs for connecting rural schools that would otherwise be unlikely to be connected by commercial rollouts (e.g. those still “stuck on outdated copper cables“).

The potential number of sites included in the project (up to 3,000) was apparently calculated by comparing a DfE list of rural schools supplied to DCMS’ GigaHubs eligibility criteria.

Digital Secretary, Nadine Dorries, said:

“Children’s opportunities in school should not be pre-determined by where they grow up.

Today we’re announcing millions of pounds to get lightning fast broadband connections to rural schools and level up children’s access to the best possible teaching.

Teaching has been revolutionised by digital technology and we need to make sure all pupils can benefit from the opportunity it brings.”

A regional breakdown of the number of schools to benefit from all this will be determined at the time of procurement, with costs also determined by local factors established at the project’s next stage. An engagement exercise will take place over the “coming months” with all eligible schools, and procurement will then begin in the autumn term.

The work will also complement the many other rural public sector sites (not only schools, but also councils, NHS, police etc.) that are being reached by a wider £110m investment under Project Gigabit. Over the next 3 years this is expected to benefit up to 7,000 such sites by deploying 1Gbps capable broadband lines (FTTP, leased lines etc.).

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. Anon says:

    Great. The pandemic showed our school they weren’t able to do remote zoom lessons. Not all the children had devices, not all the staff had laptops, and they had a WiFi budget of about 50mbit for the whole school. They don’t have ethernet in the classrooms either. Everything Wifi.

  2. chris says:

    B4RN has been providing 10gig connections to rural schools for 10 years, and in the case of the small primary schools they get free service. This is possible because the community have raised the money and helped with the work. I think there is a message in there somewhere?

  3. Zinnia says:

    Be thankful to BT

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