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Pilot provides gigabit broadband for rural schools



More than 100 rural primary schools across England are to get gigabit-capable broadband connections as part of a £3 million pilot implementation.

Run by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), it will provide the connections over the next few months as part of the Government’s commitment to improve internet infrastructure in rural areas.

Three schools have already been connected, 52 have signed contracts for the work to be done in the next few weeks, and another 72 have expressed an interest.

Those with connections are now receiving broadband speeds up to 100Mbps – which enables whole classes to surf the internet – with the capability to be upgraded to 1Gbps.

DCMS said it gives schools easier access to online training and educational learning, and enables the decommissioning of the school’s local servers to reduce hardware, maintenance and IT support costs.

Outside in

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.”

DCMS added that the trial was originally planned to reach 100 schools, but the project has been delivered under budget, allowing more benefit.

It is part of the Government’s £190 million Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme. The local benefits extend beyond the schools to improving connectivity for the surrounding homes and businesses. Once the fibre has been laid, with the school acting as a hub, connecting other premises in the area becomes much more commercially viable to broadband providers.

The trial will help to shape the new £200 million Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme, targeting the hardest to reach areas in the UK. It will work on the same principle of delivering gigabit capable connections to key public and business buildings and encouraging broadband providers to create additional connections to local homes.

Image by Antonio Chaves, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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