Openreach will not charge communications providers who connect low-income customers to its network, easing the financial burden on households who cannot afford broadband access.
The pandemic has narrowed the digital divide in terms of UK homes with access to the Internet but has exacerbated the negative effects of being disconnected.
Lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures have elevated the role of connectivity within society, with households increasingly reliant on their broadband service for commerce, work, education, entertainment, and communication.
Openreach fibre network
Of the 6% of households that remain disconnected, most are either older or are in lower household or financially vulnerable groups.
Many mobile and broadband operators have launched social tariffs to help alleviate the issue and now Openreach, whose network powers services from BT, Sky, TalkTalk and others, is going one step further.
Any broadband operator that connects a household that receives universal credit without any other earnings and hasn’t been connected to the Openreach network within the past 90 days will save up to £92 on the cost of connection. The broadband provider will then choose how to pass on the saving to their customer. This might mean lower up-front costs or a cheaper tariff.
“We believe everyone in the UK deserves access to decent, reliable and affordable broadband, and we’re working in every community, every day, to help make that a reality,” said Katie Milligan, Openreach MD for Customer, Commercial & Propositions.
“We hope this offer complements the range of existing support from providers across the industry and helps people who aren’t already online to start benefiting from the wealth of information, connectivity and opportunities that great broadband can deliver.”