Can full fibre broadband tackle digital exclusion?

When the Covid 19 pandemic struck, the need for reliable and ultrafast broadband was never more apparent.

The effect of digital technology and its role in keeping us connected was evident. Showing its impact, 1.5 million people in the UK started using the internet for the first time in 2021, according to Lloyds Bank’s UK Consumer Digital Index.

New activities included video calls, social media usage, access to online public services such as the NHS website Covid-19 information pages, and educational resources for parents thrust into homeschooling for the first time.

Hospitals and care facilities like Northern Devon District Hospital received iPads and tablets to ensure they could fulfil video calls to patients’ families and friends during periods in hospital. The response was “overwhelmingly positive” from staff, patients and their loved ones.

Many relied on the internet to get them through the uncertainty of Covid-19. What also became apparent was the digital divide prevalent throughout the UK. In this blog, we explore three critical components of the digital divide. In addition, we look at how full fibre networks like ours can begin to eradicate digital exclusion.

What does digital inclusion mean?

In their 2014 Digital Strategy, The Government defined digital inclusion as the process of ensuring people can use the internet to do things that benefit them daily.

In today’s digital world, most of us rely heavily on the internet to access many online services, including social and economic tasks like online banking, shopping and paying bills.

Being digitally capable has moved from a valuable skill to a necessity. Digital inclusion ensures everyone has the capability, the devices and the connection to access the online world.

Digital Poverty

At the height of the pandemic in 2020, The Guardian released an article stating that 1.9 million households had no access to the internet due to cost. Many reported they had to choose between feeding themselves and having internet access during the lockdown.

Digital poverty hugely impacted homeschooling, and it continues to be a critical digital exclusion factor. Many teachers shared how many students could not participate in online lessons due to not having internet access.

Lack of Skills

Digital literacy is a crucial component in supporting digital inclusion. Digital exclusion extends across many demographics. However, lack of skills is a key reason why older people avoid the internet. AGE UK states we must take other steps before getting older people online. First, they must see the value of being online and the benefits it can bring to their lives. For many, being on social media is not something they want, so can they access their pension, get in touch with the doctor or reminisce on old times? They need to see that the internet isn’t the mammoth task they think it will be and the possibilities it can mean.

Age UK also encourages group training instead of 1-1 sessions, as they can be a beneficial way of overcoming the embarrassment some may feel when getting to grips with something new. The feeling of being in it together is the helpful motivation many need to overcome their fears.

Rural Areas

Whilst lack of disposable income and skills are critical barriers to accessing the internet, the area where customers or their business reside is another obstacle to digital inclusion for others. FACTCO are proud to be one of the leading providers of full fibre, bringing broadband to rural parts of the UK through the Project Gigabit Voucher Scheme.

The scheme provides funding from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Vouchers cover the building and installation of full fibre networks. One of the most rewarding parts of our jobs is giving people the power to work, learn and play effectively online, irrespective of where they live in the country.

Is full fibre the solution?

There is no doubt that fibre optic broadband will revolutionise the UK. Imagine trying to teach a class of older people how to send an email on their iPads, when the internet is continuously buffering.

With speeds of up to 1000Mbps, even those in the most rural parts of the country can have broadband access. Speeds like this enable people to set up their dream business, work and learn from home and stay in touch easily.

The Project Gigabit Voucher Scheme provides vouchers of £1,500 per household and £3,500 per business to cover installation costs. We pride ourselves on being customer-centric. Therefore, for the duration of your 12-36 month contract with us, you don’t have to worry about price increases!

Click here to learn more about the scheme and register your interest in yourself and your community.

Local councils we work with

We work closely with local councils across the UK. Their digital inclusion teams assist communities that are struggling with their current connectivity.

Opening times 

Monday – Thursday 9am – 5:30pm 

Friday 9am – 5pm

Contact

Unit 303, Century Building,
Tower Street,
Liverpool,
L3 4BJ

Hello@factco.co.uk 

0333 305 7560

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The Fibre & Communication Company 

FACTCO LTD Company is registered in England, Registration Number: 12235635

Registered address: Unit 303, Century Building, Tower Street, Liverpool,  L34BJ
©FACTCO 2021. All Rights Reserved