The UK government announced yesterday that 100 primary schools in rural parts of England would benefit from a £3 million pilot project to provide them with Gigabit capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband connectivity in the “next few months”.
This particular initiative falls under the umbrella of the government’s £190 million Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme.
It appears that public funding will only go towards the cost of civil engineering works to develop the networks themselves, and a number of ISPs have already made contact with the schools to establish individual building plans.
The Minister of State for Digital and the Creative Industries, Margot James, said: “This project is a great example of the government’s new ‘outside in’ approach to rolling out full fibre broadband, which is taking gigabit broadband to the hardest to reach rural areas first.
“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.”
Three schools have already established the connection to faster networks, supposedly bringing their speeds from 0.5Mbps to a whooping 100Mbps in a matter of weeks. It is expected that the connections have the capacity to be upgraded to 1Gbps “should they wish to do so” in the future.
Managing director of Openreach’s Strategic Infrastructure Development, Kim Mears, commented: “We’re really pleased to be able to support the government’s drive to connect up schools with full fibre broadband through our Full Fibre Infrastructure Build programme, which enables schools not in our commercial roll out plans to still connect to our full fibre network – without incurring any build costs.
“Without fast, reliable connectivity there is the risk that children will miss out on what is now an essential learning tool, so being able to connect up schools in this way is great news.”
According to the government, this particular project will be “instrumental” in deciding how a further £200 million will be used as part of the LFFN Challenge Fund.