In today’s increasingly digital world, access to reliable and affordable internet is crucial for individuals and communities to thrive, both economically and socially.
But unfortunately, many people still struggle to get online.
Digital Exclusion in the North West
Digital exclusion is a nationwide problem. However, it’s especially prevalent across the North West. In fact, there’s a stark north/south divide when it comes to digital inclusiveness. A report by Manchester University found that 53% of people in the North West rarely or never use the internet, compared to 35% in the South East.
Levelling Up Communities in the North West
Bridging the UK’s digital divide is a key part of “levelling up” communities across the North West. So as an independent broadband company based and founded in the North, 6G Internet is stepping up to help.
In this blog post, we’ll highlight how 6G Internet is driving digital inclusion in Blackburn, by providing FREE broadband and positively impacting the local community through local partnerships and our referral partners.
But first, let’s take a close look at digital exclusion and its negative impacts.
What is digital exclusion?
Digital exclusion is the unequal access to and use of digital technologies due to factors like affordability, infrastructure, digital literacy, and personal circumstances.
Essential Online Services for all
People who are digitally excluded often may face difficulties accessing essential online services, participating in the digital economy, and taking advantage of remote work or education opportunities.
Who could be digitally excluded?
Digital exclusion can affect various demographics. However, it disproportionately impacts disadvantaged communities, low-income households, older people, and those living in rural areas with limited connectivity.
The negative impact of digital exclusion
The digital divide can worsen existing social, economic, and educational inequalities, as digitally excluded individuals are at a significant disadvantage in a society where digital skills and basic literacy are becoming more and more essential.
The negative impacts of digital exclusion include:
- Limited access to essential services.
- Less work and educational opportunities.
- Social isolation.
What’s being done to promote digital inclusion?
Social tariffs are one way to help increase digital inclusion and close the UK’s digital divide.
Families could make massive savings by applying for a social tariff
Social tariffs are low-cost broadband deals offered to customers on government benefits. They help make internet access more affordable for low-income households. These deals typically cost between £10 and £20 per month and save families around £200 a year.
Eligibility for social tariffs
Social tariff eligibility is based on receiving government benefits, including Universal Credit, Pension Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, and Income Support.
Barriers to applying for social tariffs
But despite the potential benefits of social tariffs, many eligible households remain unaware of their existence. A recent report by Ofcom found that more than half of low-income households in the UK are in the dark about bargain broadband deals. In Blackburn alone, around 14,000 low-income households could be eligible for the discounted rates.
Regulators are encouraging broadband firms to make their customers more aware of social tariffs. And while there has been a slight uptake in these deals, the same Ofcom report found that only 9% of those on a discounted rate found out about social tariffs through their provider.
And even if customers do learn about social tariffs, applying for them can feel like jumping through hoops. Providers offering social tariffs require customers to send in proof of their eligibility, which can be difficult for those without access to online services. Plus, many customers are put off applying for social tariffs due to the social stigma of talking about receiving financial assistance or sharing personal/sensitive information about their situation.
Ofcom publishes list of social tariffs from ISPs
Ofcom has published a list of social tariffs that ISPs provide. Many ISPs don’t publicise these low cost tariffs.
What is a social tariff?
Social tariffs are cheaper broadband and phone packages for people claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and some other benefits. Some providers call them ‘essential’ or ‘basic’ broadband. They’re delivered in the same way as normal packages, just at a lower price. Amid rising living costs, Ofcom is encouraging companies to offer social tariffs to help customers on low incomes. Ofcom Website
Does 6G Internet offer social tariffs?
No, 6G Internet doesn’t provide any social tariff deals.
But that’s only because we’ve decided to go one better!
At 6G Internet, we give broadband away for free, no questions asked, to the people who need it the most.
It’s part of our Internet for Everyone campaign, an ongoing initiative that donates a large part of our network coverage to schools, charities, organisations, and families in towns across the North West, including Blackburn.
Free Internet in Blackburn
We work with charities and several partners in Blackburn and the surrounding area to donate free broadband to families and people struggling financially.
Who Are Our Partners in Blackburn?
Our partners include many local schools, churches, mosques, community centres, and charities, including The Hancock Street Children’s Centre. The Hanock Centre recently referred several local families to us, and our engineers are booked in to set up their free broadband connections already.
How to apply for FREE broadband
We don’t ask any questions or require people to send in proof of their financial situation. Instead, all we need is a completed referral form from one of our approved partners.
We then make contact to book an installation date.
No fuss. No hassle. Just fast and free broadband for those struggling with their monthly bills.
“Access to the internet should not be a privilege but a right,” said Ian Clough – 6G Internet for Everyone Co-ordinator. “At 6G Internet, we believe in making that a reality by providing free broadband quickly, efficiently, and with as little hassle as possible.
What is the Free Broadband package available?
Our Internet for Everyone package is a basic 20Mbps. This is enough for checking e-mail, online banking and shopping and working from home.
Can I upgrade from Free Broadband in the future?
Yes, of course when you are able to upgrade just contact our customer service team 0800 246 6767
6G Internet offers more than a social tariff
We understand that social tariffs are a step in the right direction, but we are confident that our approach is more effective and empowering for those who need low-cost broadband the most.”
The Internet for Everyone Campaign in Blackburn
The free internet we supply across Blackburn is helping build better communities and empowering people to take more control over their own lives.
We’re working with charities, including Age UK Blackburn. It uses our free connections to provide digital skills training to older people. Thanks to these classes, seniors can now access essential online services, shop online, and stay in touch with friends and family.
“Lack of affordable broadband is one of the main factors that lead to digital exclusion amongst older people,” says an Age UK Blackburn with Darwen spokesperson. “Working with 6G Internet means we can help older people get connected free of charge.”
Internet for Homeless Pods in Blackburn
We’re also installing free internet connections in 10 homeless pods in Blackburn. The self-contained pods offer emergency accommodation for people without permanent residence.
“This is a great initiative to help people currently living in the pods,” said Councillor Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. “It will allow those living in the shelters to get online and access the relevant documents, learn new skills, and send emails to help them on their way to improving their lives.”
I am not in Blackburn is Internet for Everyone available?
The Internet for Everyone campaign is our commitment to helping the communities that we serve become more digitally connected, and we’re always looking for new referral partners and organisations to work with as we expand our network.
If we can help connect you or your organisation to free broadband, we want to hear from you right now. You can contact our Internet for Everyone team on 0800 246 6767. Or visit our dedicated page.