How BT/EE and Three are helping to alleviate the digital divide and tackle digital exclusion

Access to digital connectivity is now considered a basic right rather than a privilege.  The pandemic has reinforced that good digital connectivity provides a critical lifeline to keep people and businesses connected at challenging times.  It is paramount that everyone has the chance to access connectivity in order to be able to fully participate in today’s increasingly digital society and benefit from the many social and economic opportunities created by the ever-advancing communications technology.  To help tackle the digital divide amid the current cost of living crisis, the UK’s telecoms operators, including BT/EE and Three, are making their services and products more accessible to those who need extra help.

To support customers in need, BT (EE’s parent group) now offers “social tariffs” to everyone receiving Universal Credit (and certain legacy benefits) through its Home Essentials products line-up, covering an estimated 4.2 million households.  Launched in 2021 to complement BT’s existing social tariff BT Basic and alongside BT Here For You Hub, BT Home Essentials is a fibre broadband and call package designed to be flexible to help customers adapt if their financial situation changes with shorter contracts, eligibility reviews after the first 12 months and no cancellation fees.  To help more eligible customers take advantage of its social tariff offerings, BT is making this special package available for sign-up in-store on the high street, in addition to sign-up online and over the phone.

Tania Caporaso, Director of BT Customer Care said: “We know fast, reliable and affordable connectivity has never been as important as it is today. We’re urging anyone who qualifies for our at-cost, social tariff to get in touch, whether that’s on the phone or in one of our stores, to take advantage of BT Home Essentials.”

Three is working with Good Things Foundation to support the charitable National Databank scheme to help tackle data poverty in the UK.  The scheme aims to provide free mobile internet connectivity to people in need, acting like a food bank for the digital age.  This includes providing free SIMs, data, minutes and texts. These are then distributed through Good Things Foundation’s network of local community partners.  In joining the initiative, Three is pledging 1 million GB of data in aid of the UK National Data Bank to help an estimated 40,000 people get connected across the nation.  The operator has also recently relaunched its Reconnected programme which provides devices along with 6 months’ free data, calls, and texts to enable disadvantaged people to get connected.

Elaine Carey, COO of Three UK, said: “We are committed to providing better connectivity, responsibly.  By joining the UK National Databank, we want to help close this divide and work together to end data poverty, so everyone can benefit from the many opportunities that digital access offers.”

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