Disadvantaged children can access free broadband and mobile data during lockdown - here’s how

A variety of mobile phone companies are taking part in a government scheme to help disadvantaged children access the internet while learning at home.

The scheme “temporarily increases data allowances for mobile phone users on certain networks,” allowing children and young people to be able to access remote education “if their face-to-face education is disrupted.”

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Many kids throughout the UK are now having to temporarily study at home, due to tightening coronavirus restrictions, but not all have access to fixed broadband or internet data.

As well as those taking part in the government initiative to combat this, many broadband operators, including BT, have removed data caps. Some other mobile operators are providing data packages for children in households without broadband.

BT has said it is giving 20GB of free data per month to disadvantaged families, and Vodafone has offered 350,000 SIM cards - which provide 30GB of data - to schools and colleges for disadvantaged students.

Which networks are taking part in the government’s mobile data scheme?

Children with access to a mobile phone on one of these networks might be able to benefit from the scheme:

  • Three
  • Smarty
  • Virgin Mobile
  • EE
  • Tesco Mobile
  • Sky Mobile

Other providers may also join the scheme at a later stage.

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When can a mobile data increase be requested?

Schools, trusts and local authorities can request mobile data increases when schools report a closure or have pupils self-isolating.

They can also make requests for children who cannot attend school face-to-face because:

  • they’re clinically extremely vulnerable
  • restrictions prevent them from going to school

Who can get access to free mobile phone data?

Schools, trusts and local authorities can request mobile data increases for children and young people who:

  • do not have fixed broadband at home
  • cannot afford additional data for their devices
  • are experiencing disruption to their face-to-face education

However, If increasing mobile data isn’t a suitable option for some children, schools can also request 4G wireless routers.

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