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Mobile Phones: Disadvantaged

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN HL10315, tabled on 12 November 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Power Their Potential scheme run by the mobile phone provider Optus in Australia, which allows customers to donate unused data each month to be distributed to those in digital poverty.

Answered on

20 November 2020

The government continually assesses varying approaches to promoting digital inclusion when addressing digital exclusion in the UK.

To help support vulnerable consumers with their connectivity and data needs, in March 2020 the Government and Ofcom worked with the UK’s major broadband, landline and mobile providers, who cover most of the market, to develop a package of voluntary industry measures. As part of these commitments, communication providers agreed to give their customers new and generous offers on mobile and landline services. This includes some providers who gave effect to this commitment by giving free and low cost data boosts on mobile, and free calling allowances on landline packages. These were offers which were able to reach consumers quickly compared to data donation arrangements.

Ofcom has also recently published a guide to Treating Vulnerable Consumers Fairly, setting out its expectations and good practice on how vulnerable telecoms consumers should be supported. This includes treating those in financial distress fairly, providing them with payment support options, such as payment holidays, and only disconnecting consumers as a last resort option.