Mobile operator Three is joining forces with Virgin Media O2 and Vodafone to support the Good Things Foundation’s National Databank, which aims to help people in data poverty to get connected. It has pledged 1 million GB of data, which will help an estimated 40,000 people to get connected.
The announcement comes on the back of recent research from Ofcom, that shows that up to a fifth of UK households have struggled to pay their TV, internet and phone bills in the last year, with some having to cancel services or cut back spending on essentials such as food and clothing to make payments.
Good Things Foundation’s National Databank gives community groups across the UK access to free data – either via SIM cards or vouchers – that they can share with those who are digitally excluded and need support. Following a successful pilot in 2021, the programme has scaled up nationally, and will continue to grow in 2022. Community groups who are already a part of the Good Things Foundation’s network can apply for the connectivity via the Online Centres Network website. The Databank is also open for new applicants.
The pandemic has highlighted the huge issue of digital exclusion in the UK, with the greatest impact felt by the most vulnerable in society. More Ofcom research reveals that in the UK, 1.5m households, or approximately 6 per cent of the population, are living without internet access, and this has been exacerbated by rises in the cost of living.
“We’re delighted that Three is joining the National Databank - which is helping thousands of people to get connected and to do the things many of us take for granted - like accessing the services they need, finding work or staying in touch with friends and family, said Helen Milner OBE, Group Chief Executive, Good Things Foundation. “With living costs rising, people are having to make stark choices between having the data they need and heating their house or feeding their family. The National Databank is ensuring we aren’t leaving these people behind”.
Elaine Carey, Chief Commercial Officer at Three UK, added: “We are committed to providing better connectivity, responsibly. Having online access is something most of us take for granted, yet 6 per cent of UK households don’t have this luxury. By joining the UK National Databank, we want to help close this divide and work together to end data poverty, so everyone can benefit from the many opportunities that digital access offers.”
Good Things Foundation is calling on other mobile operators to join the National Databank. They are aiming to drive collaboration between public, private and community sector organisations and deliver sustainable solutions that will end data poverty in the UK by 2024.