The Fibre 2 Essential’s package will offer eligible customers the speeds of 73 Mbps for £20 per month

Today, Vodafone UK has announced the launch of a new social tariff plan, Fibre 2 Essentials, aiming to provide families hit hardest by the cost-of-living crisis an option for faster broadband speeds.

The £20 package includes speeds of up to 73Mbps, with customers able to join without a set-up fee and leave for free at any time. The tariff will also remain at this fixed price and will not be subject to in-contract price rises.

The tariff is available to anyone on Jobseeker’s Allowance and Universal Credit, as well as those on Employment and Support Allowance, Reduced Earnings Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, or Pension Credit.

The new plan follows the operator’s 38 Mbps Fibre 1 Essentials package, which was first introduced in October last year.

“We have led the way in social tariffs, being the first to launch both fixed and mobile connectivity and having the cheapest social broadband product on the market since October last year,” said Vodafone UK CEO Ahmed Essam. “We have now heard the call for telecoms providers to do more to support people in the cost-of-living crisis and offer social tariffs that meet the needs of different households, so we are continuing to lead the way by promoting a new social broadband tariff with faster speeds to our existing portfolio.”

“Connectivity isn’t a luxury; we are doing all we can to make sure everyone can stay connected,” he added.

Vodafone noted that it will retain all of its social tariff options available for customers following the proposed merger with Three UK.

Commenting on the announcement, Alex Tofts from Broadband Genie noted the scheme would offer customers broadband speeds comparable to the UK’s average

“While its 73Mb download rates can be beaten by some altnets like Hyperoptic, Fibre 2 is the fastest social tariff available from a mainstream provider and actually measures in at a fraction above the UK’s average speed (72.2Mb). This would be suitable for busy households of up to five people,” he said. “At £20 per month – or 66p per day – it is one of the most expensive reduced-price deals on the market, but eligible customers will still be able to select Vodafone’s current Essentials Broadband, which is 38Mb for £12 a month.”

“Importantly, it means Vodafone joins other national broadband suppliers like BT and Virgin in offering different social tariff options and is helping to ensure these packages are not seen as the poor relation alongside other standard-priced deals,” he added.

Earlier this year, a study from Ofcom revealed that millions of eligible households are still missing out on social tariffs, with public awareness remaining woefully low.

According to the regulator, there are currently 27 broadband companies offering social tariffs, alongside numerous mobile players, but only around 220,000 of the 4.2 million eligible households in the UK are taking advantage of these deals.

Ofcom has repeatedly called on broadband operators to better advertise their social tariffs and encourage take-up; indeed, earlier this month the regulator again wrote to the country’s largest broadband providers to emphasise the importance of offering and suitably advertising social tariffs.

Ofcom has also pressed O2 and TalkTalk – the two largest providers currently not offering a subsidised tariff – to quickly introduce them as a matter of priority.

Is the UK telecoms industry doing enough to support its vulnerable customers through the cost-of-living crisis?  Join the operators in discussion at this year’s Connected Britain conference, the UK’s largest digital economy event

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