Alternative network provider Hyperoptic has launched a discounted broadband tariff for households on specific means-tested benefits, addressing concerns over the number of households struggling to afford internet.
Hyperoptic’s gigabit-capable full-fibre network has reached more than 400,000 premises in parts of 43 UK cities and towns, concentrating on large residential blocks and office buildings. Hyperoptic has previously announced an aim of reaching two million premises by the end of 2021 and five million by the end of 2024.
Connections on that network will now be available more cheaply for households receiving some benefits. Hyperoptic’s Fair Fibre broadband and landline plans will be between £7 and £10 cheaper per month than their standard tariffs.
Hyperoptic’s 50Mbps broadband-only plan, delivering average download speeds of 50Mbps and upload speeds of 5Mbps, will cost just £15 a month, down from £22. For an extra £3 per month, you can include landline calling with free evening and weekend calls to UK numbers.
The 150Mbps broadband package, with symmetrical download and upload speeds averaging 150Mbps, costs just £25 per month, down from £35. You can add landline phone service, with free evening and weekend calls to UK numbers, for an additional £3 per month.
All plans come with unlimited data, free installation and activation and are bought on 30-day rolling contracts.
Fair Fibre Plans are available to consumers on the following benefits, with documentation: Income Support, Pension Credit, Income-related Job Seeks Allowance (JSA), Housing Benefit, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Universal Credit (no earnings), care leavers supported by Children’s Support and Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
Charles Davies, managing director of Hyperoptic, said: We passionately believe that affordability should not be a barrier when it comes to connectivity. We need to come together as an industry to alleviate digital poverty, especially in an era where we rely so much on our connectivity to support us with home working and home learning.
“The ambition for ‘Hyperoptic’s Fair Fibre Plan’ is to give struggling households long-term support with the cost of their broadband, with a hyperfast product that they can always rely on.”
Ofcom has been “strongly encouraging” ISPs and mobile operators to consider introducing social tariffs after its research found that 4.7 million households have struggled to afford their telecoms bill.
Hyperoptic will join three other ISPs in offering discounted service to vulnerable households. BT’s Basic Broadband plan costs £10.07 per month, providing download speeds of 10Mbps, to recipients of certain benefits. Previously the service had a 15GB/month download cap but BT lifted it during the coronavirus pandemic and hasn’t yet reinstated it.
For recipients of certain benefits in Hull, KCOM offers Lightstream Flex, which provides broadband with 30Mbps download speeds and 15Mbps upload speeds for £20 per month. It used to throttle speeds to just 128kbps once you exceeded a 20GB per month data allowance but has suspended these restrictions during the pandemic.
In November, Virgin Media launched an Essential Broadband plan, which offers speeds of 15Mbps for £15 per month to all Universal Credit recipients.
In January Citizens Advice called on Ofcom to make it compulsory for telecoms providers to offer affordable tariffs to consumers on low-income benefits after the charity’s research revealed that one in six Britons have struggled to afford broadband during the coronavirus lockdown.
That same month Labour MP Darren Jones, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on data poverty, introduced a Private Members Bill that would encourage Ofcom to establish a regulated social tariff that would apply industry-wide, initially for families on children with free school meals. While Private Members Bills rarely become laws they can generate publicity around an issue.
Jones welcomed Hyperoptic’s new social tariff. “It’s great to see internet service providers like Hyperoptic stepping up to provide more affordable broadband products for families who need it,” he said. “At the All Party Parliamentary Group on Data Poverty, we want to see all major internet service providers doing this so that, together, we can work towards eradicating data poverty in the UK.”
Hyperoptic is also gifting free 50Mbps broadband connections to disadvantaged schoolchildren and their families until the end of the summer term in August. When it announced the scheme in January, it said it hoped to connect 2,500 families within the first month.
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