BT to supply ultrafast broadband to UK primary schools under Project Gigabit

Communications provider wins £26m contract to connect more than 650 primary schools in hard-to-reach areas to gigabit broadband to enable children to access online resources and high-quality video streaming

The UK government has awarded leading communications provider BT a multimillion-pound contract to provide hundreds of primary schools in hard-to-reach places across England with ultrafast connectivity as part of the Project Gigabit programme.

Under the Schools Gigabit Connectivity Project, jointly funded by the Department for Education and Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, BT will connect more than 650 schools with “lightning fast” broadband, aiming to transform the learning experience for pupils.

The schools are located in rural and urban settings that are difficult to reach under commercial broadband roll-out schemes. BT, working closely with its broadband provision division and infrastructure supplier Openreach, will deliver what the UK government claims will be a “huge digital boost”, with schools reaping the benefits of full-fibre broadband capable of delivering in excess of 1Gbps.

Project Gigabit was introduced in 2021 to accelerate the UK’s recovery from Covid-19, fire up high-growth sectors such as tech and the creative industries, and level up the country, spreading wealth and creating jobs across Britain. On its launch, the government said it would prioritise areas with slow connections that would otherwise be left behind in broadband companies’ plans.

Over £1.1bn has already been signed in Project Gigabit contracts. In addition, more than £77m worth of contracts have been signed to connect around 32,400 rural premises across Gloucestershire, West Yorkshire and parts of North Yorkshire.

The schools in this latest deployment of Project Gigabit are based across south-west, north, south-east and east England, as well as London. The UK government will cover the costs of connecting rural schools not likely to be connected by commercial roll-out. 

Schools in the most isolated areas will see broadband speeds up to 500 times faster. In addition to enabling children to access online resources and fast, high-quality video streaming, the government said the schools involved in the deployment will also be able to embrace efficiencies through modern ways of working. This, it predicts, will generate cost savings and reduce workload for frontline professionals.

“This investment will transform the learning experience for thousands of pupils”
Ashish Gupta, BT

Working with Openreach, BT said it would be connecting the schools in phases over the next two years, with an ambition to complete delivery by December 2025. Commenting on the £26m contract, Ashish Gupta, director of corporate and public sector at BT, said the project marked a milestone moment for hundreds of schools across England, in which it was proud to play a central role.

“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,” said Gupta.

Schools minister Diana 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 ultrafast broadband to those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it.”

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