Kids In Need Throughout UK Can Now Access Fast Internet For Free

A couple of years ago, my internet went out for a month and I never really found out why that happened. The lack of progress in resolving the issue I saw during this period led me to switch providers.

But while it was frustrating at the time, it would put me in a legitimate crisis if such a thing happened now. After all, what used to be just a source of entertainment for me is now essential to my livelihood since the pandemic has emerged.

Unfortunately, that has also been true for any children who now rely on virtual learning and that crisis scenario I described is simply the reality for hundreds of thousands of them.

For that reason, internet providers in the U.K. are stepping in to fill the new and difficult gap that is making life so much harder for them.

In 37 regions of the United Kingdom, families are struggling to adapt to the requirements of distance learning due to unreliable or outright non-existent access to the internet.

That information comes via The Guardian, who reported that the Tower Hamlets borough of London is among the most strongly affected by this issue, as are the cities of Leeds and Newcastle.

According to Wired, between 1.14 million and 1.78 million British children also have no access to a tablet, a laptop, or a desktop computer, with over 888,000 of them only having a mobile connection at home.

To address this problem, a telecom called Hyperoptic is pledging to provide thousands of families with free, high-speed broadband internet.

As The Guardian reported, this proposal not only includes unlimited data for those who receive it, but also stable service that doesn't fluctuate depending on the time of day or who else is using the internet in a given household.

Hyperoptic is planning to extend this service to 2,500 families within the next month alone.

While this is underway, the U.K.'s other internet providers have teamed up with the nation's Department of Education for the Get Help With Tech scheme.

According to Wired, this plan doesn't involve the same free broadband offer we're seeing with Hyperoptic, but rather a free increase to mobile data allowances and an avenue for families in need to get their hands on 4G wireless routers. This applies to any youths in need between what the British education system designates as years 3 and 11.

This offer applies to any existing customers of EE, Three, Sky Mobile, SMARTY, Tesco Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone and O2. However, the amount of data appears to depend on the company as EE is offering 20 GB of free data per month until July of 2021 while Vodaphone is offering 30 GB, O2 is offering 40 GB and Three UK is offering unlimited data.

However, that's not the only aspect of this plan that aims to make virtual learning easier.

As Wired reported, the Department of Education is also pledging to provide laptops and tablets to those with only mobile internet or with no internet-enabled devices at all.

As before, this applies to children from year 3 to 11, but is also relevant to kids of any age who either have clinical risk factors or live with someone who does as well as those attending a hospital school.

If all goes according to plan, schools, colleges, and councils should receive 1 million new devices to be distributed to disadvantaged families.

Although it's unclear how the period in which the Get Help With Tech scheme is in effect differs between England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, Wired has stated that 560,000 laptops have already been distributed since the pandemic first emerged.

h/t: The Guardian, Wired

Filed Under: