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More than 100 rural schools to become gigabit broadband 'hubs'

More than 100 rural schools to become gigabit broadband 'hubs'

The government has announced that more than 100 primary schools in rural parts of England are to take part in a trial that will see them equipped with gigabit-capable broadband services.

As well as providing ultrafast service to improve lessons and give pupils access to the latest online technology, the schools will also act as 'hubs' for the surrounding areas, making it more economically viable to connect other premises to the technology.

Minister for Digital Margot James said the scheme is a great example of the government's 'inside out' approach to broadband, which is prioritising the delivery of full fibre capabilities to more hard to reach areas.

"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," she stated.

Some £3 million is to be invested into the pilot scheme, with three schools already connected and a further 52 having signed contracts, with work to be completed in the coming weeks. Another 72 schools are also in discussions about participating.

Its results will be instrumental in helping shape the wider £200 million Rural Gigabit Connectivity Programme, which will target the hardest to reach areas in the UK. Building on the same principle, the programme will deliver gigabit-capable connections to key public and business buildings and encourages broadband providers to create additional connections to local homes.

The schools that are already connected have seen their download speeds increase from 0.5Mbps to 100Mbps, with the potential to raise this even further to 1Gbps as and when it is required in the future.

Mary See, Headteacher at Cheselbourne Village School in 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."

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