Virgin Media O2 launches National Databank to connect the disconnected

Virgin Media O2, together with Good Things Foundation, has launched a National Databank with the aim of helping to tackle data poverty. The launch is in response to the data crisis in the UK, with 1.5 million homes currently without internet access, according to Ofcom.

Following the success of a three-month National Databank pilot scheme and building on the 7.5m GB of O2 mobile data already donated, Virgin Media O2 is also announcing today that it will gift 10GB of O2 data to the National Databank for every plan purchased between 1 November and 31 January.

As founding member of the National Databank, Virgin Media O2 now expects to triple its original data donation after its Christmas data pledge, taking the number of people it aims to help to over 255,000 nationwide.

This week also marks the launch of O2’s Christmas advertising campaign – ‘We’re better, connected’ – which focuses on the data pledge, promising to help connect disconnected families all around the country.

The National Databank was created by Virgin Media O2, working closely with Good Things Foundation and other digital inclusion experts including Community Organisers, Operation Wi-Fi, Hubbub and Nominet, and has been gifted to Good Things Foundation to run through its network of 5,000 community groups. The National Databank provides a central hub where community groups can access free ‘data voucher codes’ and SIM cards for anyone who needs them. Those accessing free data will also be offered additional support – including digital skills training and signposting to other essential services. Virgin Media O2 has also donated £500,000 to Good Things Foundation to cover the operational costs of running the Databank.

Amir, 41 from Northumberland explained how the data voucher she received from the National Databank pilot programme has helped. He said: “I was struggling to put food on the table, let alone able to afford any data to use the internet, but through the National Databank programme the whole family has benefitted.” Originally from Syria, Amirs family struggles to make ends meet, but thanks to free data from the National Databank, Amir has been able to reach out to employers and make new contacts, and his children have been able to access the internet for educational purposes.

Alongside its data pledge, Virgin Media O2 will be increasing the free monthly data allowance for each voucher available through the National Databank from 7GB of O2 data per month to 15GB of O2 data per month in its fight to combat data poverty and get people connected across the UK.

“With many millions of people still facing digital exclusion, now is the time to come together and close the gap on digital inequality, and build a lasting legacy to help end data poverty for good,” said Lutz Schüler, Chief Executive Officer at Virgin Media O2. “The success of the pilot scheme has shown us just how important the National Databank is to those who need it – and as it rolls out across the UK, we want to do even more. Through our data pledge this Christmas, we’re calling on our customers to help us triple our original donation, and connect the disconnected when they need it most.”