BT secures multi-million pound schools broadband contract

BT has secured a multi-million-pound contract to connect hundreds of hard-to-reach primary schools across England with gigabit broadband.

It’s part of government’s Project Gigabit programme that will transform pupils' learning experience.

Under the Schools Gigabit Connectivity Project, joint funded by the Department for Education and Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, BT will connect more than 650 schools with lightning fast broadband connectivity.

The schools are located in both rural and urban areas that are difficult to reach under commercial broadband rollout schemes. BT, working closely with infrastructure supplier Openreach, will provide the schools with full fibre broadband capable of delivering in excess of 1,000 megabits per second. The schools are based across South West, North, South East and East England, as well as London.

Pupils will be able to use the internet with no interruptions, even if multiple classes are using it at the same time. They will be able to link up with other schools across the globe to learn from one another, with access to an ever-growing library of online tools designed to make lessons more fun and engaging.

The schools will also be able to make efficiencies through modern ways of working - generating cost savings and reducing workload for frontline professionals.

Government's investment will cover the costs of connecting rural schools not likely to be connected by commercial rollout.

Ashish Gupta, managing director, corporate and public sector at BT, said, "This project marks a milestone moment for hundreds of schools across England, and we're proud to play such a central role in making it happen.

"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.

"Working with Openreach, we will be connecting the schools with lightning-fast broadband in phases over the next two years, with an ambition to complete delivery by December 2025."

Schools Minister, Baroness 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 ultra-fast broadband to those who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it."

Digital Infrastructure Minister Julia Lopez said, "Today's classrooms have been transformed by the internet, with children able to access an endless library of incredible resources to boost their learning.

"We need to make sure every pupil can benefit from these exciting digital experiences, so we’re investing millions to bring top-of-the-range broadband to schools in places that would otherwise have been stuck in the digital slow lane.

"This is just one way our £5 billion Project Gigabit programme is putting a stop to buffering broadband in hard-to-reach communities, with more than a million mostly rural premises already able to access lightning-fast gigabit speeds thanks to government subsidy."

The delivery of new gigabit connectivity also underpins the government’s net zero ambitions - helping schools to move away from inefficient locally-hosted servers and use more efficient and secure cloud data storage, services and devices.

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