As part of its commitment to help tackle the digital divide, Vodafone today announced it is launching communities.connected, a new initiative to give private and public sector organisations an easy, fast and cost effective way to directly provide connectivity to their most vulnerable customers. The communities.connected plans have been designed to support schools, further education colleges, universities, local authorities and charities. The plans mean they can provide connectivity to the individuals and families who are struggling to access internet connectivity at home, missing out on education, employment prospects and access to healthcare.
The communities.connected plans are available at a significantly reduced price, starting from £15 per month for a SIM-only, unlimited data contract. Customers can also buy a six and 12 month package, with unlimited data and a free dongle or Mi-Fi device, for £100 and £180 respectively. The plans are available until the end of June 2021.
Ofcom estimates that between 1 and 1.8 million children in the UK do not have a laptop, desktop or tablet at home and that 1.9 million households don’t have access to the internet. The importance of a good quality device and reliable connectivity has proved essential during the pandemic, helping children keep in touch with friends and family, have fun and, perhaps most importantly, access online learning.
Vodafone’s schools.connected programme gave 350,000 SIM cards to 9,000 schools and colleges across the UK. Vodafone has also recently donated 10,000 dongle devices to help children access online learning and catch-up classes and made a significant donation to the Raspberry Pi Foundation to enable it to distribute 500 computer kits to disadvantaged young people.
Anne Sheehan, Business Director, Vodafone UK, said: “We have worked hard throughout the pandemic to connect the most vulnerable and enable children to connect to online learning and were delighted with the response to our schools.connected programme. We know many of our customers want sustainable and affordable connectivity solutions to enable them to provide connectivity to their most vulnerable customers. I hope communities.connected meet this need.”
Vodafone is part of the Government’s Get Help with Technology programme to increase data allowances for children in need and is giving unlimited data to Vodafone customers who join the scheme. In addition, it has ‘zero rated’ the Department for Education-funded Oak National Academy so its customers can access the online resources and lessons without using up their data allowances.
Vodafone is also asking the public to donate unwanted smartphones and tablets as part of its Great British Tech Appeal. It will cover the cost of postage and packing, add six months of free unlimited data connectivity, and send the devices to disadvantaged families via charity Barnardo’s. To donate visit: vodafone.co.uk/techappeal.