Openreach boost for low-income households
September 7, 2021
By Colin Mann
UK digital infrastructure provider Openreach is providing extra support to low-income households by offering to waive superfast broadband connection fees for any customers who aren’t currently connected to its network and receive Universal Credit with no other earnings.
The initiative follows a recent report from industry regulator Ofcom which highlighted that households across the UK which don’t take communications services due to affordability problems “are likely to experience the greatest harm” and explained that a decent broadband connection can provide “better access to education and employment opportunities, as well as wider benefits such as social inclusion”.
Openreach’s new ‘Connect the Unconnected’ offer is therefore designed to help those most at risk – an estimated one million people throughout the country. It will enable Communications Providers (CPs) who connect new eligible customers to benefit from up to £92 (€107) of savings on installation charges for Openreach’s broadband services offering download speeds of 40 megabits per second and, on a trial basis, selected higher speed tiers.
Such services are capable of supporting all manner of online activities including messaging, access to cloud services, video calls and streaming multiple HD movies simultaneously.
CPs can choose to pass the savings on to customers in a number of ways, making it cheaper for low-income households to get online up-front or over the course of their contract term.
“We have been working closely with Openreach and the wider sector to build a broadband market where cost is not a constraint to getting online,” commented Digital Infrastructure Minister Matt Warman. “This welcome step will help people struggling with bills access the connectivity they need to thrive in today’s digital age.”
“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 – including investing £15 billion to build a new ultrafast, ultra-reliable full fibre broadband network to 25 million premises by December 2026,” stated Katie Milligan, Openreach MD for Customer, Commercial & Propositions. “Recent Ofcom figures show how the cost of broadband has dropped dramatically in recent years despite data usage rising massively, but we’re still keen to do more to help low-income households get online.”
“The way we’re regulated means millions of consumers and businesses will continue to benefit from low prices, which are already amongst the lowest in Europe and support strong competition amongst hundreds of providers using our network – but we want to go further. 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,” she concluded.
The offer is available from October 5th to all CPs and to households that receive Universal Credit with zero other earnings, who have not been connected to the Openreach network for the past 90 days.