Three mobile network offers unlimited data to disadvantaged children in lockdown

The move is designed to support access to school resources during the pandemic

KFE27G A child using a laptop.
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British mobile network Three UK is the latest operator trying to prevent children from falling behind during the lockdown by providing free unlimited data to disadvantaged children in England after schools closed.

Many broadband operators, including market leader BT, have removed data caps, and mobile operators have provided data packages for children in households without broadband.

Opposition Labour Party leader Keir Starmer on Tuesday called on operators to do more to help children who have to rely on mobile phones for online learning.

"Everybody needs to try to make this work and that includes the companies that can take away charging for data. It's a serious situation," he told BBC radio.

Three, which is owned by CK Hutchison, said schools could request free, additional data through the Department for Education's Get Help with Technology programme.

The unlimited data will be applied until the end of the school year in July, the company said.

"Three UK wants to support those families that need access to connectivity to support their child's learning needs during the pandemic," said chief commercial officer Elaine Carey.

A number of operators, including Three and BT, were already offering packages of mobile data in the Department for Education programme.

BT, for example, said it would give 20GB of free data per month to disadvantaged families.

"The data is accessed through children's schools and will allow pupils to access whichever educational resource that their school subscribes to, to help make sure no one is left behind while face-to-face teaching is paused," a spokesman said.

Vodafone has offered 350,000 SIM cards that provide 30GB of data to schools and colleges for those in need, and it said it would keep working with the government to help.

The Department for Education said last month it would supply more than one million devices to schools, colleges and councils.