Vodafone promises free data to 200,000 ‘digitally excluded’ Britons

UK MNO Vodafone has pledged 24 million GB of data to the Good Things Foundation’s National Databank.

Andrew Wooden

January 12, 2022

3 Min Read
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BRR2C9 Mobile phone SIM cards

UK MNO Vodafone has pledged 24 million GB of data to the Good Things Foundation’s National Databank.

The data is described as sufficient to connect 200,000 people for six months. Vodafone has worked with Good Things Foundation on so called digital exclusion projects since 2020 and has said it will connect one million people living in digital poverty by the end of 2022.

Community groups will be able to apply for the free data later this month through the Good Things Foundation website. It will be provided in the form of SIM cards, each loaded with 20GB of data and free calls and texts every month.

This follows a three month pilot that saw over 400 data vouchers distributed to community partners. The programme is now live in 34 centres across the UK with plans to extend it to ‘hundreds more’ over the course of the next year.

“We’ve put tackling digital exclusion at the heart of our business with our pledge to connect one million people by the end of 2022,” said Ahmed Essam, Vodafone’s UK CEO. “Joining Good Things Foundation’s National Databank is an important milestone in achieving this target and another great way to provide connectivity to grassroots organisations who can have immediate impact in the communities in which they work. Together, we can tackle digital exclusion.”

With regards to the wider scheme, Helen Milner OBE, Group Chief Executive, Good Things Foundation added: “The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the digital divide, highlighting a huge pressing social issue and leaving people with multiple social challenges left behind. It is not OK to leave millions of people locked out of the digital world. We’re excited to see the National Databank grow in scale in 2022, increasing from 34 participating centres to hundreds, possibly thousands, more.

“Our aim is to drive collaboration between public, private and community sector organisations and deliver sustainable solutions that will ultimately end data poverty in the UK by 2024. This is a real possibility. Together, we can all come together to break down the barriers causing data poverty in the UK once and for all.”

In terms of who is eligible to apply, the charity’s site describes data poverty as the inability to afford a sufficient, private and secure internet connection to meet essential needs, such as applying for jobs, bank online, access essential services such as health and benefits, or do school work online.

A big part of its messaging is that during the pandemic, more and more of our lives were conducted online, with lockdowns and restrictions accelerating existing trends.

The website reads: “Lockdown has left millions isolated, unable to see family and friends or even go to the supermarket. Being offline during Covid means you can’t connect with loved ones, you can’t shop online, and you can’t help your children to learn from home.”

It’s a good point and one that is backed up a report published today by App Annie, which showed just how large the mobile app economy has become, and how much it grew over the last two years as global restrictions were put in place.

As vast swathes of society and the economy continue to transmute to some form of digital future, those without access to an internet connection at all are bound to be left out – which is what the Good Things Foundation was set up to address.

About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins Telecoms.com on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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