A quintet of ISPs have joined forces to promote better services levels and more affordable broadband packages for customers
Five UK ISPS – Gigabit Networks, Triangle Networks, Air Broadband, Highnet, and Trunk Networks – have announced the formation of a new consortium, dubbed the Rebel Alliance, seeking to ease the financial burden of purchasing broadband services for customers in the UK.
The group appears to have been formed, at least in part, in reaction to the recent price hikes from major ISPs in the UK earlier this year, which saw prices increased by up to 9.3%.
As a result, the Alliance is calling for the UK broadband industry to work together to better support vulnerable customers who may struggle to pay their bills, particularly in the wake of the ongoing cost of living crisis in the UK.
“The ability to connect to the Internet is no longer a luxury but a necessity, simply because so many essential services, including applying for Universal Credit itself, take place online. Despite this, it seems like our industry still views being able to access fast and reliable internet as a consumer choice, with the quality of the internet you receive connected to your willingness and ability to pay,” said David Yates, CEO of Gigabit Networks.
“At a time of rising household costs across the board, we in the Rebel Alliance think that this is totally unacceptable and it is incumbent on the entire industry, which includes the infrastructure firms, to work together to increase internet affordability and make social tariffs readily available across the board to those who are eligible for them.”
In their press release, the Alliance notes statistics from Ofcom related to social tariffs that show more than four million UK households are eligible for these special offers, yet only 55,000 homes actually sign up for them
Social tariffs, say the Alliance, need to be not only be more widely available, but far better advertised to improve uptake.
It is worth noting that despite calling for more widely available social tariffs from the wider industry, none of the five founding members of the Rebel Alliance appear to have launched social tariffs of their own.
The Alliance is also calling on the infrastructure providers, such as Openreach, Virgin Media O2, and CityFibre, to help bear a share of the burden for social tariffs, thereby “ensuring that affordable social internet pricing is made available to as many people as possible”.
Naturally, this is a tall order too, with all UK broadband infrastructure providers currently racing to deploy expensive fibre networks in line with the government’s ambitious gigabit Britain targets.
Nonetheless, this consortium is fighting for a worthy cause and is shedding light on the very real threat that the cost-of-living crisis poses when it comes to deepening the digital divide in the UK.
Are UK telcos doing enough to support customers facing economic hardship? Join the industry in discussion at this year’s live Connected Britain event to find out how the UK’s key players are responding to the cost-of-living crisis