Virgin Media O2 is reducing the price of its social broadband tariff by 16% and creating a new tier that it says will provide faster speeds and the ability to add streaming video services.
The company’s ‘Essential Broadband’ bundle, which offers speeds of up to 15Mbps, is available to anyone in receipt of universal credit from the government. The price cut takes effect immediately, meaning it now costs £12.50 a month.
‘Essential Broadband Plus’ boosts this to 50Mbps for £20 a month. Both tariffs have no fixed term contract and no activation fees.
Social broadband tariff
Virgin Media O2’s new ‘Stream’ entertainment service, which offers TV channels and apps through a dedicated device, can be added to either plan for an up front cost of £20.
Any customer who adds a streaming subscription, such as Disney+, to their bill will receive a 10% discount over the standard cost.
The social tariffs build on other Virgin Media O2 efforts to help customers with the rising cost-of-living, including the creation of a ‘national data bank’. Chief executive Lutz Schüler has also called for the government to slash the amount of VAT on communications services to the same level as other utilities like gas and electricity.
“We have a long history of stepping up in tough times and now is no different,” said Jeff Dodds, chief operating officer at Virgin Media O2.
“Connectivity remains an essential part of our lives, so we are boosting the support we provide to those who need it most in the cost-of-living crisis. We’re taking steps to increase awareness of our social broadband plans, while making it easier to sign up, and are calling on the Government to cut VAT on social tariffs which we will directly pass on, helping those struggling most to save even more.
“Through continued network investment, and a range of products at different price points and speeds, we consistently provide incredible value to customers and will keep playing our part in this challenging climate.”
Several major broadband providers offer social tariffs, with the government and regulator Ofcom urging the industry to increase awareness to drive adoption. Currently only 3% of eligible households have taken up such a tariff.
Ofcom’s annual affordability study found 29% of customers, around eight million households, are having problems paying their mobile, broadband and television bills – double the figure from last year.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.