May 31, 2023
Mobile UK Launches New Infographic To Showcase How Mobile Operators Are Supporting Digital Inclusion
Digital inclusion is about ensuring that the benefits of connectivity and digital technologies are available to everyone.
During periods of rapid change and unprecedented digital progress, to retain the maximum societal benefit, it is important to identify those who are at risk of being left behind and provide them with the tools they need to thrive.
As well as needing access to equipment and connectivity, some digitally excluded people may require additional support to develop skills, confidence and motivation to use the technology. This creates additional layers of social exclusion and can exacerbate already pertinent socioeconomic problems – the ability to get online, simple as it may sound, can often be lifechanging for many people.
Championing digital inclusion is therefore a priority for mobile operators in the UK.
To outline some of the work being undertaken by our member operators, we have released our Digital Inclusion infographic, which can be viewed here
Tackling data and device poverty
Set against the backdrop of the cost-of-living crisis, mobile operators are stepping up to provide access to essential digital capabilities and tools during tough economic times.
Mobile pricing in the UK remains extremely affordable with prices low compared to countries in Europe and United States, yet operators continue to provide additional help through a number of initiatives, for example via social tariffs and additional customer support for the financially vulnerable.
In addition, the National Databank has been built with support from Virgin Media O2 and with data donated by Virgin Media O2, Vodafone and Three. It is intended to help vulnerable people in communities around the UK get connected. So far, 1,000 hubs have been established.
EE is working with Home-Start to provide direct support to the UK’s most vulnerable families and disadvantaged children, offering 2,500 households free devices and data connectivity.
Plugging the digital skills gap
Access to connectivity is one part of the equation; understanding how to utilise that connectivity is another.
- EE is working to provide 25 million people with essential digital skills via its BT Skills for Tomorrow programme in partnership with the Good Things Foundation.
- The Three Discovery programme aims to reach 1.7 million by 2030 to help more individuals make the most of their connectivity.
- Virgin Media O2’s Better Connections Plan is also well underway, its objective being to equip two million people with digital tools and skills by 2025.
Operators are also working closely with businesses to help them plug their digital skills gaps. For instance, Vodafone’s ‘business.connected’ scheme is aiming to build digital skills to help transform 800,000 companies by 2025.
Championing online safety
While getting people connected is the overriding priority, it must be achieved in a way that does not compromise on safety.
Alongside measures to boost digital inclusion, mobile operators are also providing vital support around online safety and education. Three’s Discovery programme, for example, also delivers free safety workshops to schools, parents and teachers, while Virgin Media O2’s Internet Matters partnership supports families in being safer online.
Vodafone, through its free to use Digital Parenting Pro resource, is enabling parents to better understand parental controls on the latest apps, games and devices. Young phone users, meanwhile, can also tap into EE’s PhoneSmart Licence – an online skill module designed to prepare them for life as a digital citizen.
About Building Mobile Britain
Building Mobile Britain is a campaign created by Mobile UK seeking to work with national and local government, as well as interested industry groups to overcome the challenges we face with expanding the existing mobile networks, while also developing innovative services for customers.
See here for further information - or #BuildingMobileBritain
Head of Policy and Communications
Tel: 07887 911 076