Virgin Media to give struggling families 20GB free mobile data to help with home schooling

FAMILIES can get help from Virgin Media to support them with home schooling during lockdown.

The phone company is offering free data on mobile devices so that parents don't have to fork out for online learning after coronavirus closed schools.

Virgin Mobile customers can get up to 20GB more a month at no extra cost.

They will also not have to pay for data when it's used to access some learning resources, such as Oak National Academy, a website with thousands of free lessons and resources.

Virgin isn't the only network helping out with homeschooling for families struggling financailly.

EE is offering 20GB of data each month at no extra costs to kids who need it, while Three said it will give them unlimited data.

Vodafone is offering students sim cards with free data through Schools, while O2, Sky Mobile and and Tesco Mobile have all promised to increase data allowances too.

Who is eligible for the support?

THE support by the mobile network providers in collaboration with the Department for Education is available to disadvantaged kids.

To qualify, the following needs to apply to the children and their households:

  • Do not have fixed broadband at home
  • Cannot afford additional data for their devices
  • Are experiencing disruption to their face-to-face education

Many providers have also removed caps on broadband packages to help families – here's everything other providers are doing.

To get the free data from Virgin or other providers schools, trusts and councils need to request the support on behalf of parents and families from the Department for Education.

If you think you qualify and you haven't heard anything, it could be worth speaking to your child's teacher and asking for help.

For each request made by a school, it needs to give the DfE the name of the account holder, the number of the mobile device as well as which network you're on.

Once a network provider has processed the data increase, they'll let you know directly.

If increasing mobile data isn’t a suitable option for some children, schools can also request 4G wireless routers from the DfE.

How to make the most of your Wi-Fi

IF you’re not eligible for the support, comparison site uSwitch has shared five quick tips to make the most of your home Wi-Fi.

  • Reboot your router – the classic "unplug it, leave it 30 seconds and plug it back in".
  • Location, location, location – if your router is located further away than it needs to be, try moving it to the room you’re most active in or the center of your home.
  • Disconnect unnecessary devices – turn the Wi-Fi off on gadgets you’re not using, even if they’re in a drawer. They may be using bandwidth in the background.
  • Run a speed test – this will determine whether your router is running at the speeds you signed up for.
  • Purchase a Wi-Fi extender or "booster" – this will optimise your broadband for faster and stronger connections.

Virgin is also offering some of its TV channels broadcasting factual shows to customers for free.

Channels include Animal Planet, Crime+Investigation, Discovery Science, Eurospot and Sky History.

Meanwhile, the kids app Hopster which was made free last year will also continue to be available to families through Virgin TV at no cost until the end of March.

The TV app is available through Virgin's set-top boxes and is aimed at pre-schoolers, with a range of shows including kids favourites Pingu and Sesame Street.

Virgin Media's chief operating officer said: “As we have done since the start of this pandemic, we want to support our customers during the difficult months that lie ahead.

"We know how important it is for people to have the connectivity to get online, as well as to stay entertained while spending more time at home.

“From offering free mobile data to support remote learning to providing a great line-up of pay TV channels at no extra cost, we’re pleased to be playing our part in helping our customers during this challenging time.”

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