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Over 100 rural primary schools to get gigabit broadband

Primary schools could become high-speed broadband hubs for rural communities if government plans reach fruition

The government will provide more than 100 rural primary schools with gigabit-capable broadband as part of its commitment to improve the internet infrastructure in rural communities.

Broadband speeds have already increased from 0.5Mbps to 100Mbps at three schools, which were part of a £3m pilot.

The next-generation gigabit-capable broadband can eventually provide speeds of 1,000Mbps, or 1Gbps.

Another 52 schools will be connected in the next few weeks, and there are discussions with another 72 that are interested in being part of the roll-out.

The project initially aimed to reach 100 schools, but because it was delivered under-budget, more schools will benefit.

Minister for digital Margot James said the government wants rural communities that are hard to reach to have access to high-speed broadband by using the schools as hubs.

“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 said.

“These new speeds are enabling whole classes to simultaneously surf the internet on tablets as part of structured lessons, and give schools easier access to online training and educational learning,” said James.

Staff at schools can also reduce the use of paper through increased use of the cloud, which also means local servers at schools can be decommissioned, reducing hardware, maintenance and IT support costs.

Mary See, headteacher at Cheselbourne Village School in Dorset, said superfast broadband had revolutionised the way the school works.

“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 and will have the same opportunities as their urban peers in preparing for a more technological future,” she said.

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