Rural schools will be high speed internet hubs for community

Children in Daffodils Class at Browns School, Horbling,researching metals for their Mighty Metals topic. EMN-190226-113158001
Children in Daffodils Class at Browns School, Horbling,researching metals for their Mighty Metals topic. EMN-190226-113158001

Four rural primary schools and their communities around Sleaford are set to benefit from new, superfast broadband connections within months as part of Government improvements to internet infrastructure.

Under a £3 million pilot programme, primary schools at Horbling, Digby, Dunston and Nocton will be among over 100 across the country first to benefit from high speeds delivered by full-fibre connections, but as ‘hubs’ will also make ultrafast broadband available to thousands more rural homes and businesses.

The schools should see their broadband speeds jump from 0.5 Megabits per Second (Mbps) to 100Mbps, and have the capability to be upgraded to 1,000Mbps (1Gbps) in the future.

Horbling Browns School business manager Mark Lunn said: “While cities are benefitting from full fibre, 4G and soon 5G, sadly we are lacking in some rural villages with internet speeds not much better than ‘dial-up’. The capital invested will take the full fibre deeper into the village to connect the school and that will bring it closer to more houses and businesses.”

The trial is part of the Government’s £190 million Local Full Fibre Networks programme targeting the hardest to reach areas in the UK. Once the fibre has been laid (with the school acting as a “hub”) connecting other premises in the area becomes much more commercially viable to broadband providers.

Mr Lunn said: “A home broadband service will on average have maybe four or five users, but we have potentially 100 users trying to connect in school using tablet devices. The enhancement will give us three times the upload and download speeds.

“Our schools have the best teachers and resources, but without the infrastructure of broadband in place you are always going to be hindered in what you can offer. It will give better lessons and children will be more engaged on devices and in what they are trying to achieve, as it is actually working.”

The school may be able to use video conferencing with schools in Africa or specialist teachers. It will mean easier access to online training and to cloud services helping reduce hardware, maintenance and IT support costs.