Maria Caulfield MP welcomes £3m programme to provide primary schools in Lewes with high-speed broadband

Maria Caulfield MP has welcomed new funding for St Peter’s CE Primary and Wivelsfield Primary in her Lewes Constituency to provide them with gigabit-capable broadband connections as part of the Conservative Government’s commitment to improve internet infrastructure in rural areas.

This £3m pilot programme will provide more than 100 rural schools with high-speed broadband connections, providing primary school students with valuable technology skills and giving schools easier access to online training and educational learning.

3 schools have already been connected, and 52 have signed contracts with work expected to be completed in the coming weeks – including St Peter’s CE Primary School and Wivelsfield Primary School. Those schools already connected under the programme have seen 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.

This trial is further progress in the Conservatives’ commitment to providing 100 per cent of the UK with affordable, fast and reliable broadband by 2020, while concurrently ensuring that the UK is the safest place in the world to be online.

Maria Caulfield MP said “The Conservatives are committed to increasing connectivity across the whole country by investing heavily in digital infrastructure, and this new funding will provide young people in the Lewes constituency with increased digital skills and access to online educational tools.

“This new programme will be vital to ensuring all young people have access to the digital infrastructure they will need to succeed in life, regardless of whereabouts in the country they live.”

Minister for Digital, 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."

The trial is part of the Government’s £190 million Local Full Fibre Networks (LFFN) programme, and will see the schools benefit from fully-funded and future-proof full fibre connections directly into their classrooms. The new connections being provided to schools has had the additional benefit of increasing connectivity for surrounding homes and businesses. 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.

The trial will be instrumental in shaping the £200 million second round of the LFFN Challenge Fund, targeting the hardest to reach areas in the UK. Building on the same principle, the programme will deliver gigabit capable connections to key public and business buildings, including schools, as well as encouraging broadband providers to create additional connections to local homes.