7th January 2021

Bring Back the BDUK Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme

What are we campaigning for?

The nationwide closure of schools has left many children without the means to properly learn from home.  We believe good internet access is not a luxury but a necessity.

We want the Government to do more than funding dongles and routers to for kids that live in areas where the equipment just won’t work because of poor mobile coverage.

We want the Government to reinstate the supplier neutral BDUK Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme funding in England to enable any alternative broadband suppliers across the country to get kids online. There are funds worth up to available in Wales and Scotland but the English one was discontinued in 2019. We don’t think that’s fair.

The Better Broadband scheme funded installation and hardware costs of connections over satellite, 4G and fixed wireless, to ensure first-year costs were no more than £400.

Who are we?

We specialise in the supply of business class 4G broadband in rural areas across the UK, Europe and beyond that have little or no mobile phone signal. In the UK we can provide this service in as little as 48 hours as we did for Norfolk County Council during the first lockdown. We have supplied our service to 100’s of home users including teachers, enabling them to carry on working during the pandemic. Read about a teacher we helped in the first lockdown here.

Why are we doing this?

Getting sustainable broadband connectivity into hard-to-reach places is actually not as difficult as many people would have you believe. It can be done quickly, even in a matter of days. There are schemes available in the devolved nations but not in England and we think the Government should step up and close that national divide.

When do we want the Government to reinstate this funding?

We are calling for the Government to do this right now. There are suppliers across the country ready and waiting to spring into action. We have seen just this week the Government’s speedy response to help protect businesses with the introduction of the new £9000 lockdown grants for businesses in the retail, hospitality, and leisure sector.

We want the same quickfire response to this call for funding to ensure that kids are not left without proper access to remote learning. The Government must act with the same urgency for school children as they have just demonstrated they are capable of for businesses.

How have we offered to help?

We have offered to provide our service at a reduced cost to County Councils across the country to support the education and wellbeing of our country’s children. If they engage with our joint venture offer, we can get rural kids who have poor broadband online in a matter of days.

What can you do to help our campaign?

  • Write to your MP and ask them to ask the Government to reinstate the BDUK Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme funding
  • Write to your County Councillor and tell them there is help available to get school kids, even those in areas with no mobile phone signal, online
  • Share your stories on social media. How are you being impacted by school closures and poor broadband? Use our campaign hashtag #bringbackBBSS
  • Follow our social media accounts and share our posts:     Twitter: @Sim_Rush        LinkedIn: @SimRush        Facebook: @SimRushLtd

Please get involved in whatever way you can and join us in supporting our children to learn effectively from home.

This is why our co-founder Justine Thomas has started this campaign:

On Monday I read a heart-breaking tweet from a mum reacting to the latest development in the response to the pandemic. It said:

The lockdown is devastating for so many people, but perhaps most of all for the children who are now deprived of a proper education for the foreseeable future due to school closures. There will be many who get a fabulous online learning experience, but many will simply not be able to access this due to lack of decent broadband.

The tweet I read got me thinking about how difficult it is being at home with children at the best of times, but how much worse that must be if your kids are at home and you can’t help them learn because your broadband is rubbish.

I have written to the Leader of every County Council in England offering to supply them with our basic service at a significantly discounted price. We are also offering cheap unlimited data packages so no parent needs to worry about expensive pay as you go or out of bundle charges. Read the letter here.

I have also written to the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretaries of State for Education, and Digital, Culture, Media and Sport asking them to reinstate the BDUK Better Broadband Subsidy Scheme which provided funding for households in England for alternative broadband connectivity. This is not just about affordability – it’s about access to the right broadband equipment to get online. A 4G dongle free data to access certain webpages isn’t going to help kids who live in areas with poor mobile reception. Read the letter here.

The scheme is supplier neutral and the more suppliers that get involved the better! 

Ofcom report nearly 900,000 children live in a household whose only access to the internet is through a mobile connection. Connecting them is not as difficult as everyone would have you believe. We know this as we deliver this day-in, day-out. We just need our Civic Leaders to get behind this and for the Government to provide the desperately needed funding to support our children now and protect their future.