Children in classroom with teacher.
  • Thousands of pupils in schools with slowest speeds can now access gigabit broadband
  • Nearly 7,000 hospitals, libraries, police stations and other public buildings to be upgraded by end of March
  • Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries says: “We are levelling up pupils’ and teachers’ access to the fastest future-proofed broadband”
Children in more than a thousand schools are now enjoying next-generation internet speeds thanks to government investment.

Full fibre networks stretching for thousands of kilometres are now supplying lightning-fast gigabit broadband to 1,084 schools and thousands of other public buildings previously stuck with slow speeds.

It means teachers can make use of the most cutting-edge learning tech - such as video conferencing platforms to host joint classes and assemblies with schools anywhere in the world and online tools that bring lessons to life such as films and learning games. It will also support teachers to spend more time planning and delivering lessons and less time staring at loading screens.

The work is part of the government’s national mission to level up internet access across the UK by investing in blisteringly fast gigabit broadband and busting barriers to speed up commercial roll out.

Most schools in the UK are in urban or suburban areas which already have access to fast full fibre broadband, but this investment focused on schools in around 30 per cent of the UK that currently cannot access speeds of 100 megabits per second and were not in line to receive an upgrade commercially from broadband companies.

Many of them are in rural or hard-to-reach areas, so the government has stepped in to fund their connections and make sure they don’t miss out on next-generation speeds.

Work is underway to bring gigabit speeds to even more schools, with 884 earmarked to be connected by March next year.

It comes as the government today launches a call for evidence to understand the future wireless connectivity needs of the UK and how it can support the rollout of 5G and other advanced wireless networks.

This includes looking at technologies such as satellite, the Internet of Things - which will underpin innovations like driverless cars - and at the development of 6G networks, the next generation of mobile.

6G will power things like virtual reality calls, which give the sensation of being in the same room as the person at the other end of the line, revolutionise wearable technologies to improve healthcare and could allow for greater advances in smart cities and manufacturing.

The call for evidence will inform the Wireless Infrastructure Strategy which was announced in June.

Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries said:
'We are levelling up pupils’ and teachers’ access to the fastest future-proofed broadband, giving hundreds of schools better access to important learning opportunities, no matter where they live.

'The Government is on a mission to connect the country to next-generation networks. Today’s announcements will help harness the huge potential of 5G and future wireless networks such as 6G to supercharge our plan to build back better.'

The government is also on track to connect around 6,800 public buildings across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland by the end of March - including hospitals, GP surgeries, fire stations, leisure centres, museums and libraries.

The upgrades form part of a more than £210 million investment by the government to bring next-generation connections to places where internet speeds are slower, such as in rural areas.

This will help raise efficiency and quality across vital public services. For example - libraries will be able to offer faster connectivity for users, GPs and blue light services will access records and specialists faster, and museums will be able to have more interactive exhibitions.

The investment also makes it easier for broadband providers to extend the network to surrounding communities, with around 1.5 million more homes and businesses now within 200 metres of a fibre optic broadband cable thanks to the investment.

The government is also supporting technology upgrades in classrooms, improving education for pupils and enabling school staff to work better by investing £30 million in the pilot project “Connect the Classroom.” This aims to upgrade technology within over 1,000 schools, allowing them to benefit from fast Wi-Fi and cloud services.

Read more here.