Up to 30,000 families to receive free NBN connection for school

Up to 30,000 families across Australia will soon benefit from free NBN internet connection, thanks to a Federal Government initiative aimed at bridging the digital divide.

More than ever, a reliable internet connection is necessary to keep up with the demands of modern education. Even with in-person classes resuming after pandemic-induced disruptions forced students to learn from home, online connectivity is a core part of schooling. Enter the School Student Broadband Initiative.

What is the School Student Broadband Initiative?

To assist financially disadvantaged families, the Federal Labor Government pledged to provide free broadband for a year to households with no active NBN service. Now delivering on the promise in the form of the School Student Broadband Initiative (SSBI), the rollout is starting now. NBN Co received a $4.5 million government grant to deliver the program alongside various providers.

In order to be eligible for the SSBI, families need to be nominated by their school, education authority, or a participating community organisation. Currently, The Smith Family and Catholic Network Australia are among the community groups able to identify and nominate families for the initiative. More participating organisations will be announced as the SSBI rolls out.

Some families’ free internet will be up and running by the end of February, with the aim to connect households during term one of school. The 12 months of free NBN internet begins the day a family’s service is activated. Right now, there aren’t many details available publically, with families urged to get more information from their schools.

What type of NBN connection does the SSBI include?

Through the SSBI, families will connect to 50Mbps services on either unlimited or “large” data quotas. One of the participating retailers, Aussie Broadband, also includes a 20Mbps upload speed on connected plans. Satellite internet is available for families in rural areas, including Fixed Wireless Plus and Sky Muster Plus services.

Going by the Everyday NBN plan listed on Aussie Broadband’s website, a 50/20 would normally cost $79 per month. Over 12 months, the SSBI equates to a $948 saving, and connection charges through the initiative are covered by NBN Co.

Alongside Aussie Broadband, other participating retail service providers include Belong, Exetel, Field Solutions Group, Launtel, Lemonade Broadband, Skymesh, Superloop, and Vodafone. Prior to rolling out the SSBI more widely, some families benefitted from a trial period, according to Jonathan Prosser, Aussie Broadband’s Chief Strategy Officer.

“Aussie Broadband has always believed in the power of connectivity to combat inequity, and it’s why we were proud to be one of the few RSPs to help drive the Government Initiative pilot program,” Prosser said. “This program will help Aussie kids get the most from their education.”

The SSBI adds to a big few months for NBN Co, fresh off announcing a multi-gigabit speed technology partnership with Nokia, and rolling out Fibre to the Premises connections to more Australians.

As it currently stands, while publically available selection criteria are notably absent and support beyond the 12-month period is unknown, the SSBI will save families nearly $1,000 in internet costs.

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