Mobile Internet Connections
On this page you will find links to resources that should support you with the most frequently asked questions we recieve.
Do the parents/carers/children have a device capable of operating as a "hotspot"?
Almost all Smartphones manufacturered in the last few years are capable of acting as a "hotspot". With this function, the smartphone creates and broadcasts a wireless network, this allows other Wi-Fi enabled devices to connect to the smartphone and share the 3G/4G/5G Data connection that the smartphone has.
Instructions on how to "hotspot" using an Android Device - https://www.androidauthority.com/mobile-hotspot-setup-631280/
Instructions on how to "hotspot" using an iOS Device - https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT204023
If the parents have a "hotspot" capable device, do they have a sufficient data allowance?
If the parents/carers/children have a device capable of being a "hotspot" and are on one of mobile networks listed below, they may be able to apply for an increase in data allowance to facilitate remote learning via the hotspot.
The participating mobile networks are - EE, O2, Sky Mobile, SMARTY, Tesco Mobile, Three, Virgin Mobile, Vodafone
To view more details about the data increase and how to apply, visit this website - https://get-help-with-tech.education.gov.uk/about-increasing-mobile-data
Our school successfully obtained a "free Data" SIM card from a mobile network operator, now what?
There are 3 ways in which you may be able to utilise your "free data" SIM card:
1) Some tablets and laptops have a slot (and subsequenly a modem) for a SIM card. It is always worth checking if any school-owned devices or home based devices have this slot before looking at options 2 and 3.
2) If there is not a laptop or tablet that can take a SIM card directly. Is there a spare mobile phone or 3G/4G modem/dongle available at home that just needs a SIM Card to make it functional? Mobile phones can use data-only SIM cards, they just won't be able to use the text messaging and calling functions. You would set the smart phone up as a hotspot as per the guidance in the section above.
3) If there are no devices that can take the SIM card directly and there isnt a spare mobile phone or 3G/4G modem or dongle available, you can look into purchasing a suitable device under the "hardware options" in the section below.
We have access to a device that can provide a connection, but have no SIM card for it. How do I obtain a SIM?
Sadly only a limited number of free SIM cards with a data allowance included were made available by the network operators and as such they were claimed very quickly, meaning no stock is now available. If we hear of a new source for these SIM cards, we will flag this up to subscribing schools.
When it comes to obtaining SIM cards, there are 4 options for consideration.
1) A specific data Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG) SIM card, that comes with an amount of data pre-loaded. This operates in a similar way to the above, but has a "bundled" amount of data to get you started. You then buy bundles of data using PAYG credit as the allowance depletes. Here are some options for a SIM card with bundled data:
Currys PC World
2) A specific data SIM card that has a set data allowance and is on a 30 day "rolling contract" basis. Meaning you have to give 30 days to terminate the agreement. If you are a fully managed school, please contact us to talk through how you access this type of "business" agreement.
3) A specific data SIM card that has a set data allowance and is on a 12 month contract. If you are a fully managed school, please contact us to talk through how you access this type of "business" agreement.
4) A set of SIM cards, that have a shared pool of data allowance and is on a 12 month contract. If you are a fully managed school, please contact us to talk through how you access this type of "business" agreement.
If you are interested in options 2-4 please talk to us, providing more information around your requirement.
We need to buy a "Mobile Wi-Fi Router" to use with a SIM card we already have
Schools ICT are able to source modems from suppliers on a bulk basis, but from what we understand most schools only need a very small number of devices. Because of this we have identified that the most cost effecitve and quickest route is to obtain a device through retail channels.
Mobile Wi-FI Router devices
These devices operate as standalone units and broadcast a Wi-Fi signal that devices can connect to, to access the internet. All devices listed below are "unlocked" and are in stock at the time of writing:
Amazon (All items available with next day Prime delivery):
Argos (Stocked in local stores):
Last updated 21/01/2021
We need to buy a "Mobile Wi-Fi Router" or "USB Dongle" and SIM card
Below are some suggestions for USB dongles and Mobile Wi-Fi Routers. It is likely that the devices will be locked to the network they are supplied by, so check signal is available before ordering. Bundled data allowances normally need to be used within a set period after activiation, this is generally 3 months but check the individual device listings to be sure.
Argos (Stocked in local stores):
Last updated 22/01/2021
How much Data will pupils need at home?
This really is one of those "how long is a piece of string" questions... This will depend on how much the connection is utilised and the type of content being downloaded. Vodafone have a good calculator that should help give a fairly accurate estimate and along with some helpful information further down the page: https://www.vodafone.co.uk/mobile/data-calculator
What mobile network should we use?
There are two main things to consider when chosing a mobile network
1) Value for money - How much data do you get for your money? Once intial bundled amounts are used up, what is the cost for more?
2) Mobile network signal - Generally this isn't as much of a problem as it used to be, but it may be prudent to check 4G Signal availability in the area where the devices are going to be used. You can find the signal checkers for the main networks here - EE, O2, Three, Virgin, Vodafone
Mobile network operators do not by default offer the same level of "filtering" as you would have in school. Most network operators will block the really nasty stuff and some allow you to block content that is only suitable for those aged 18 and above. You should therefore assume the connections are "unfilted" and "unmonitored".
If this is an issue and you want to add a more substantial layer of filtering or monitoring, please talk to us. We are able to source 4G connecitons that come with filtering (but cost more) and may be able to extend your school based filtering for school owned devices.