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July 19, 2023
UK operator Vodafone has launched a second social tariff called Fibre 2 Essentials, which offers speeds of up to 73 Mbps for £20 a month for those eligible.
Vodafone launched the Fibre 1 Essentials in October last year, and this second deal appears to be about providing a slightly more expensive option with faster speeds.
Social tariff schemes provide people on benefits discounted broadband and mobile deals, and is being pushed by the government in response to the cost of living crisis. This deal is available to anyone on Jobseeker’s Allowance, Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Reduced Earnings Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, or Pension Credit.
Those eligible can join without a set-up fee, leave for free at any time and won’t receive in-contract price rises, we’re told, and Vodafone said that it will retain all of its social tariffs following the proposed merger with Three.
“We have led the way in social tariffs, being the first to launch both fixed and mobile connectivity and having the cheapest social broadband product on the market since October last year,” said Ahmed Essam, Vodafone’s UK CEO.
“We have now heard the call for telecoms providers to do more to support people in the cost-of-living crisis and offer social tariffs that meet the needs of different households, so we are continuing to lead the way by promoting a new social broadband tariff with faster speeds to our existing portfolio. Connectivity isn’t a luxury; we are doing all we can to make sure everyone can stay connected.”
Since the cost of living crisis, Ofcom, as well as government spokespeople, have applied public pressure onto operators and ISPs encouraging them to do more to make people aware of the existence of social tariffs – including a letter from the (then) UK Digital Secretary Nadine Dorries which asked them to outline their plans in April 2022.
A year later, Ofcom put out a report claiming that while uptake of broadband social tariffs has quadrupled since January 2022, only 5.1% of those eligible have signed up, and around half don’t know about them. It estimated at the time that 4.3 million households are eligible for broadband social tariffs, and that 220,000 have taken them up.
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