As teachers and pupils alike take onboard the spectacular volte-face by the UK government to transition from declaring schools safe to a Covid risk in a matter of hours, the authorities have responded to concerns that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds will lose out as lessons move to exclusively online remote learning for the foreseeable future.
Mass availability to high-quality broadband connections and good mobile connectivity were already hugely contentious issues in the UK well before the pandemic hit and the first lockdown was declared in March 2020.
Research from UK comms regulator Ofcom in December 2020 noted that while the UK’s domestic networks coped well with the added strain of mass home working and fibre roll-out gathered pace, a small but significant number of properties were still struggling to get connected. Ofcom estimated that 43,000 premises could not access either a decent fixed broadband service or good 4G coverage indoors. And with millions more Britons yet again having to work from home if they can, the importance of getting fast, reliable broadband to as many people as possible has never been clearer, and the fears of a digital divide still abound.
Ofcom’s figures revealed that 11 million households able