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Openreach to Waive Broadband Installation Fees for Low-Income Households

Openreach will install broadband for free for households on Universal Credit with no other earnings, which could lead to lower costs across their broadband contract.

The company, which owns most of the UK’s broadband infrastructure, would usually charge ISPs to switch on broadband for unconnected households. Broadband providers then pass on that cost, which can be up to £92, to the consumer.

From 5 October, Openreach won’t charge ISP to turn on connections for households that receive Universal Credit with no other earnings and that haven’t been connected to the Openreach network for the past 90 days.

Openreach notes that ISPs can choose to pass the discount onto consumers in a number of ways, either in discounted upfront fees or lower monthly bills. The offer will apply to Openreach’s “superfast” fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC) connections, but not to its faster full-fibre products.

Openreach, part of the BT Group, estimates that one million households could benefit.

Katie Milligan, Openreach MD for Customer, Commercial & Propositions, said: “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.”

Matt Warman, UK Digital Infrastructure Minister, said: “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. This welcome step will help people struggling with bills access the connectivity they need to thrive in today’s digital age.”

However, many broadband providers don’t have a mechanism for identifying subscribers on Universal Credit, which may limit the impact of the discount. 

1.5 million households in the UK still lack internet at home, according to Ofcom, with the poorest most likely to be digitally excluded. Research by the University of Cambridge found that while 99% of households with an income over £40,000 have home internet, that falls to just 51% among households between £6,000 and £10,000.

Lauren Smith
Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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