October 3, 2022

UK Telecoms Industry Committed To Assisting Customers Amidst The Cost-Of-Living Crisis

As an industry we understand many of our customers are impacted by the cost-of-living crisis. We are committed to doing our part to support customers most affected and all four UK mobile network operators have introduced several ways to help vulnerable customers.

EE, Three, Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone have all put in place several packages to help keep people connected – this includes competitive low-cost tariffs. Further to this, in June of this year, all operators committed to a new cost-of-living plan with the UK Government. These commitments included:

  • All providers commit to supporting their customers who may be struggling with the cost-of-living and to treat them with compassion, understanding and as individuals.
  • All providers commit to supporting customers struggling with their bills and to offer ways to keep them connected, such as allowing them to move to cheaper packages without charge or penalty, or agreeing manageable payment plans.
  • All operators commit to continue to protect the connectivity of their customers known to be vulnerable as a priority.
  • Providers - supported by Government - commit to take steps to raise awareness of low-cost products to those claiming Universal Credit.
  • Mobile providers commit to considering more ways to help their customers, including exploring tariffs, options to improve existing low cost offers, and increasing promotion of existing deals.

Further to this the operators have in place several measures put in place to support customers struggling with their bills due to the cost-of-living crisis, and to helping them remain connected. These include:

Connectivity Goals

  • BT Group, which operates BT and EE as an integrated consumer facing business already have nearly one million customers on social or discounted tariffs. BT/ EE are committed to finding sustainable ways to make access to the internet a level playing field for all.
  • ‍Three aims to set up one million new digital connections to Samaritans vital support services by 2024.
  • ‍Virgin Media O2 is committing to eradicate data poverty by connecting one million digitally excluded people by the end of 2025.
  • Vodafone is committed to connecting one million people in digital poverty by the end of 2022.

Data Poverty

  • With a wide range of low-cost mobile options and donations in place from other operators, BT / EE has focused its efforts on broadband, with an industry leading social tariff broadband for £15pm for 36Mbps for anyone on universal credit.
  • Three UK's Reconnected scheme enables customers to donate old phones which are repackaged with six-month unlimited data, texts and calls are and provided to individuals seeking employment, are disadvantaged students or are vulnerable people facing digital exclusion.
  • Three UK has added seven financial advice and guidance websites to its list of zero-rated websites that customers can access without using data (StepChange, Business Debtline, National Debtline, Citizens Advice, Money Advice Plus, Money and Pensions Service and Money Helper)
  • ‍‍Virgin Media O2 supporting the Greggs Hardship Fund to get 255,000 people connected by the end of 2023.
  • The Community Calling scheme by Virgin Media O2 has donated 10,000 phones and £1m of data in the last two years
  • Virgin Media O2 is offering 20GB of free O2 mobile data per month via the National Databank. In addition, the company is increasing its data donation as it pledges to gift more than 61 million GB of free data by the end of 2025.
  • Virgin Media O2 has also expanded its list of services that can be access without eating into mpbile data allowances. Customers of both O2 and Virgin Mobile will be able to access the National Debtline, Business Debtline, Turn2us, Debt Advice Foundation and National Energy Action without using any of their mobile data. They join existing zero-rated websites such as Citizens Advice, Money Advice Service and debt charity, Step Change.
  • Vodafone, through its charities.connected, Great British Tech Appeal and Vodafone Together programmes has partnered with the Trussell Trust and Barnardos to provide free connectivity to those that require support.
  • Vodafone has further pledged 24 million GB of data to the National Databank to connect 200,000 people. Vodafone also operates the Buy One Get One initiative via Vodafone Together also to offer free connectivity for up to a year via a prepaid 20GB sim.

National Databank

  • Mobile operators Three, Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone have joined the UK National Databank, run by digital inclusion charity the Good Things Foundation, to tackle issues of data poverty in the UK. One million gigabytes (GB) of data have been pledged which will help an estimated 40,000 people to get connected. Read more here.

Take a look at this infographic to find out the unique ways the industry is supporting customers to tackle the cost-of-living crisis.

(The above infographic can be downloaded here)

Visit our Cost-of-Living page to find out more about the range of support options the UK mobile network operators are already offering to vulnerable customers to reduce bills, improve digital skills, ensure online safety, and reduce data poverty.

About Building Mobile Britain

Building Mobile Britain logo

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

Media Contacts

Gareth Elliott
Head of Policy and Communications
Tel: 07887 911 076

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