Covid-19: Government denies ‘snubbing’ BT’s wi-fi for pupils offer

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The government has denied it "snubbed" an offer from telecoms giant BT to provide disadvantaged children with internet access for remote learning.

BT said the government had "struggled to distribute" the wi-fi vouchers and "effectively handed them back to us".

However a spokesman for the education department said a pilot of the scheme had not provided "reliable and consistent" internet connection.

UK schools are closed to most pupils as part of coronavirus lockdown measures.

Teachers have had to revert to online learning, as was the case during the first lockdown in the Spring. However concerns has been raised over how this is impacting disadvantaged families who don't have internet access.

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In a letter to BT, Labour MP Sarah Owen urged the company to provide school children "who cannot afford it with internet access so that they can learn, achieve and stay connected".

In response Marc Allera, head of BT's consumer brands division, said: "BT was the first telecoms operator to have an offer for vulnerable families", adding that it had offered BT wi-fi vouchers from June 2020.

"Unfortunately the Department of Education struggled to distribute these vouchers effectively and handed them back to us," he wrote.

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