Just how “Social” are Social Broadband Tariffs?
From an NHS that “has the opportunity to revolutionise General Practice”1 and offer online consultations that can “enhance the experience of care for patients”, to a benefits system that is “digital by default” to the Covid educational crisis (would be catastrophe had it not been for decent home broadband services), the entire mechanics of a modern society are being moved online at an ever increasing pace.
So for those that can’t afford not just a decent broadband service, but any service at all, what are the options? How will those most in need access healthcare, work and benefits or education and training?
Well, there have been some Covid related services being offered as we have highlighted before, but what happens after 21st June? There has been some “encouragement” of the main ISP’s to provide “social tariffs”, but are they any better than what is generally available in the market?
In short, with the exception of Virgin’s Essential Broadband service (which sadly just isn’t available everywhere), none of the other offerings are in our opinion, remotely worth having in modern times.
So are these genuinely social tariffs, or is this just social broadband tariff window dressing?
For example, the BT Basic tariff for landline and broadband would cost you £10.07 per month, with a free installation. But when you factor in the 15GB data cap, you’d better hope that the online consultation doesn’t go on for long, that the kids don’t have much homework to do, or the grand-kids want to watch Youtube Kids.
BT Basic and other such offerings, aren’t (in our view) social tariffs, they’re just email and flat website surfing tariffs. The KCOM Flex tariffs are much the same as BT with unrealistic data usage limits.
Data Cap (GB)
Allowable SD Streaming per week (1GB p/hr)
Allowable HD Streaming per week (3GB p/hr)
BT can do much, much better, their sister company, Plusnet and others like Origin offer a completely unlimited commercially available tariff for just £9.92 per month more, that’s £2.29 more per week to be included.
Whilst the Virgin Essential tariff is unlimited, you do have to sign up to a normal M100 package, and pay the installation fee (which they will refund), but that can be an insurmountable sum for those that already struggle to pay food and other utility bills. The KCOM Flex tariffs are much the same as BT with unrealistic data usage limits.
So if left to the market this is the best we are going to see, the Compare Fibre fight for #meanstestedbroadband goes on.
If we want everyone using digital services we need to make sure no-one is left behind.
1 – https://www.england.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/online-consultations-implementation-toolkit-v1.1-updated.pdf
2 – https://www.hrw.org/news/2019/06/10/disastrous-roll-out-uks-digital-welfare-system-harming-those-most-need