Increasing children’s internet access through free BT hotspots

The Department for Education has teamed up with BT to give children and young people free access to BT wifi hotspots. BT has created 10,000 hotspot log-ins that can be activated through name/password combinations. It calls these combinations ‘vouchers’.

Every voucher comes with content filtering, and one voucher can be used on up to three devices at once. Vouchers will work until the end of December 2020.

Who can get help

Vouchers are available to families with children from early years up to 16, and care leavers up to 25 if they:

  • don’t have access to a fixed broadband connection
  • cannot afford the additional data needed to access educational resources or social care services
  • have access to a BT hotspot (coverage varies depending on where you live)

How the scheme works

We’re rolling out the scheme in phases. We’ve already allocated 10,000 vouchers to certain local authorities and trusts taking part in our pilot.

If you’ve received an email from us about downloading vouchers, go to our digital service and enter your email address. You’ll then be able to download a spreadsheet (CSV file) with usernames and passwords. Note that you’ll only be able to use the service if you’ve been invited to do so.

Distributing the vouchers to schools and families

You need to pass on the vouchers individually to schools and families. We suggest you direct schools towards our online guidance to help them understand what to do.

What you can do if you’re not taking part in the pilot

We know this support is needed, and we hope to make it more widely available as soon as we can. We’ll be in touch when we’re ready to bring you on board.

In the meantime, you can prepare by finding out if those who need help can access a BT hotspot.

How to check hotspot coverage

Families can check hotspot coverage by turning on a device’s wifi while at home and seeing whether BT wifi is an available network. This will appear as ‘BTWi-fi’. If they don’t see ‘BTWi-fi’ initially, they should try again in different rooms, as coverage can vary within the same building.

It’s also possible to check coverage by entering an address on https://www.btwifi.com/find/. The results you get from this aren’t always accurate, so we recommend using the first method.

How individuals can get involved

If you don’t have access to a fixed line broadband connection at home and you need help to access remote education or social care, please find out what support is currently available.

If you’re at school, talk to your school. If you have a social worker, talk to your social care team.

There’s also support for those who can’t access hotspots

We know there will be children and young people who can’t connect to a BT hotspot because of where they live. We may be able to increase mobile data allowances for them.

If you have questions

If you have any questions, email COVID.TECHNOLOGY@education.gov.uk using the subject line ‘Increasing internet access’.