Children in more than a thousand schools are now enjoying next-generation internet speeds, the Department for Education has said.
Full fibre networks 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 says it has stepped in to fund their connections and make sure they don’t miss out on next-generation speeds.
The areas seeing the most schools upgraded include Norfolk (115), Wolverhampton (81), North Yorkshire (45), the Highlands (37) and Dumfries and Galloway (35).
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 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.