Educational websites should be exempt from mobile data charges to help the poorest families, according to BCS. Key sites used by schools and parents, for example, Purple Mash and Classcharts, should not incur any mobile charges in lockdown, according to BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT. James Woodward reports.

While broadband data caps have been removed following negotiation by the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) and major providers, many families’ internet connections still come via capped mobile services.

There has been some movement with BT Mobile, EE, and Plusnet Mobile customers now able to access BBC Bitesize content from the end of January without using up their data allowance. It’s hoped other providers will follow suit.

Digital divide

Adam Leon Smith, Chair of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT’s Software Testing Group said: ‘Many low-income families rely on mobile data for internet access, and the average data allowance is much lower. With schools being closed for the foreseeable future, the DCMS should negotiate a ‘zero-rating’ for educational websites with mobile data providers.

‘This would be similar to the zero-rating already applied to some subscription-only services, like Skype and Twitter, by some mobile providers. Schools would need to confirm details of the sites they need, but these can be agreed and refined over time.’