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Hundreds of primary schools to get lightning-fast broadband under government’s ‘Project Gigabit’ rollout

BT has secured a new multi-million-pound contract to connect hundreds of hard-to-reach primary schools across England with gigabit broadband – as part of the UK Government’s ‘Project Gigabit’ programme that will transform the learning experience for pupils.

Under the Schools Gigabit Connectivity Project, joint funded by the Department for Education (DfE) and Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, BT will connect over 650 schools with ‘lightning fast’ broadband connectivity.

The schools are located in both rural and urban settings that are difficult to reach under commercial broadband roll out schemes. BT, working closely with infrastructure supplier Openreach, will deliver a huge digital boost, with schools reaping the benefits of full fibre broadband capable of delivering in excess of 1,000 megabits per second. The schools are based across South West, North, South East and East England as well as London.

In some cases, schools in the most isolated areas will see speeds up to 500 times faster. Pupils will be able to use the internet with no interruptions, even if multiple classes are using it at the same time. They will benefit from being able to link up with others anywhere in the world to learn from one another, with access to an ever-growing library of online tools designed to make lessons more fun and engaging.

The schools will also be able to embrace efficiencies through modern ways of working – generating cost savings and reducing workload for frontline professionals. The rollout has been made possible through UK Government investment, which will cover the costs of connecting rural schools not likely to be connected by commercial rollout.

Ashish Gupta, Managing Director, Corporate and Public Sector at BT, said: “This project marks a milestone moment for hundreds of schools across England, and we’re proud to play such a central role in making it happen.

“Access to high speed, reliable broadband is vital in the modern world and underpins so much of our daily lives. Nowhere is this more important than education. This investment will transform the learning experience for thousands of pupils, opening up opportunities for interactive lessons, collaborative projects with other schools and pupils anywhere in the world, as well access to an expanding online library of educational content and video.

“Working with Openreach, we will be connecting the schools with lightning-fast broadband in phases over the next two years, with an ambition to complete delivery by Dec 2025.”

Schools Minister, Baroness Barran said: “High speed, reliable internet is key to making sure schools can offer the best possible education for pupils, which is why we’ve committed to getting all schools access to gigabit capable connectivity.

“Whether it’s through seamless access to digital resources or video streaming, this welcome investment will unlock new possibilities for hundreds of settings in rural and hard-to-reach areas, bringing ultra-fast broadband to those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it.”

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said: “Today’s classrooms have been transformed by the internet, with children able to access an endless library of incredible resources to boost their learning.

“We need to make sure every pupil can benefit from these exciting digital experiences, so we’re investing millions to bring top-of-the-range broadband to schools in places that would otherwise have been stuck in the digital slow lane.

“This is just one way our £5 billion Project Gigabit programme is putting a stop to buffering broadband in hard-to-reach communities, with more than a million mostly rural premises already able to access lightning-fast gigabit speeds thanks to government subsidy.”

The delivery of new gigabit connectivity also underpins the government’s net zero ambitions – helping schools to move away from inefficient locally-hosted servers and embrace more efficient and secure cloud data storage, services and devices.

Lisa Baker is Group Editor for the Need to See IT Publishing Group. Lisa writes about HR, Technology, Health, the Environment and Business.
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