BT is working to bring cheaper broadband services to tenants of housing associations.
The new Connected Society plan will see BT working with housing associations to set up shared WiFi connections across the country.
The result of this is that residents should be able to get a basic service that will cost less than cheaper than services like BT Basic, a credit-check free service that’s only available to people claiming various benefits including Universal Credit.
As availability Universal Credit continues to be rolled out across the UK, more and more people will be encouraged to apply for benefits online. Unfortunately, while many people are comfortable with navigating the web, millions face being caught in an offline benefits trap.
BT Business CEO Graham Sutherland said: “There are currently 6.4 million adults in the UK that have never used the internet, with 4.1 million of those in social housing.
“This not only affects their employment prospects and access to education, but also how they gain access to essential services. As a result, it’s crucial that they have access to go online – and that’s why we’re working with housing associations to help ensure those on low incomes or who are unemployed, elderly or disabled have access to the internet.”
Initiatives like Go ON UK, Digital Deal and more recently, the Digital Inclusion Charter have been set up to get people signed up to get people online. But for many getting connected will be as much about being able to pay for it as being able to use it.
BT’s Connected Society programme aims to help here by waiving an installation fee and doing away with line rental, often the most costly aspects of fixed-line broadband.
Instead of making customers pay to be connected, the cost of setting up a shared connection would be spread over a long term contract.
Not including these spread costs, it’s estimated that the average price of Connected Society broadband services would be around £6/month.
BT Basic currently costs £4.85/month on top of line rental, which costs £5.10/month and is paid quarterly. This is equivalent to paying £9.95/month.
Richard Troote, head of ICT Wales & West Housing welcomed the plan. Troote said: “There are a number of drivers for us to provide internet at home to our residents, including the forthcoming implementation of Universal Credit, which means people have to be online – or at least have access to the internet.
“There are also a number of barriers that, until now, have prevented many residents from having broadband at home. Working with BT Business has allowed us to go a long way towards eliminating those allowing us to provide cost-effective internet access, as well as the training and technical support our tenants need.”
Universal Credit was introduced last year. As well as being able to claim online, you can sign up for Universal Credit in over 50 Job Centres.