What is the School Student Broadband Initiative?

This government initiative helps make sure students aren't left behind

Alex Kidman
Mar 18, 2024
Icon Time To Read3 min read

The days of education being comprised of blackboards, chalk and Perkins Paste are well and truly history. The modern classroom has an increasingly online focus, which matches up well with the way most of us tend to live our working and social lives.

However, while it means that the average student inhales a lot less chalk dust, it also creates a distinct digital divide when it comes to learning from home or doing homework if you’re in a situation where it’s financially impossible to have a broadband connection. That kind of access gap can have significant impacts on a child’s ability to learn and their own economic futures.

That’s what the School Student Broadband Initiative (SSBI) is designed to combat, making it possible for families with school age students to get online and get on with learning.

What is the School Student Broadband Initiative?

The School Student Broadband Initiative is a Federal Government-funded scheme designed to provide free home broadband for up to 30,000 families through to at least the end of December 2025.

Who qualifies for the School Student Broadband Initiative?

In order to be eligible under the School Student Broadband Initiative, at a minimum your family must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have a child living at home and enrolled in an Australian school (up to year 12 including Prep in Qld/Vic/Tas, Kindy in NSW, Reception in SA, Transition in NT/ACT and Pre-Primary in WA).
  • You must not have an active nbn network internet service at home.
  • You must live in a premises that can access the nbn network via a standard connection.
  • You must not have had an active nbn connection during the previous 14 days.

This does not mean that everyone who simply hasn’t had a connection in the past two weeks will automatically qualify; if you meet the above minimums you then have to pass an eligibility check which may include address checking and certain financial questions before being approved. 

The system is designed to fund up to 30,000 families to access broadband services that they otherwise would not be able to afford, so if the scheme fills out before you apply, you may find that you’re technically eligible but unable to access the SSBI.

How do I apply for the School Student Broadband Initiative?

For some families you may find that existing services that you utilise can also nominate you for the SSBI, or you can self-nominate by going through the National Referral Centre (run by Anglicare Victoria), which you can access by phoning 1800 954 610 from Monday through Friday between AEDT or online at www.anglicarevic.org.au/student-internet.

They will guide you through the application process, and if successful, you will be issued with a voucher that can be used with participating NBN ISPs to access online services through to the current end of the scheme in December 2025.

School Student Broadband Initiative FAQs

Services provided under the School Student Broadband Initiative are for 50Mbps fixed line, wireless and Sky Muster Satellite services. As with all NBN services, your particular technology option is determined by your address. 

No. It is only a scheme to cover the cost of providing a single broadband connection for eligible families.

No. Sadly, it appears that scammers have been using the School Student Broadband Initiative to try to get people to pay for applications to it. That’s not the case for the School Student Broadband Initiative. If you’ve been asked to pay in order to apply for the School Student Broadband Initiative, you should report that contact to Scamwatch.

It is important to note that not all NBN providers provide services under the SSBI. Your voucher letter should indicate the ISPs who are working within the scheme in your area that you can choose from.

No. Having a mobile service at home does not make you ineligible in and of itself.

At the time of writing, the scheme is set to expire at the end of 2025, though it has already been extended once already. There is no guarantee that this will happen, and it is expected that families will be contacted by their ISP providers to discuss options at that time. Nobody on the School Student Broadband Initiative scheme should end up having to pay for a connection while the scheme is active, and being on it does not qualify an ISP to suddenly start billing you automatically afterwards.

Alex Kidman
Written by
Alex Kidman is some kind of word-generating AI from the future that somehow worked out how to sneak back in time to 1998 to start its journalism career. Across that time, including editorial stints at ZDNet, CNET, Gizmodo, PC Mag and Finder, as well as contributions to every major tech masthead, nobody has quite managed to figure out this deeply held secret. Let’s keep it between us, OK?

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