Social tariffs should not be overlooked says LGA
Under the existing telephone Universal Service Obligation only BT of the national providers is duty bound to offer a social tariff (we assume KCom has something similar in Hull), this is a basic line rental (BT Basic) and 10GB allowance ADSL2+ service for £9.95/m (£5.10/m line rental plus £4.85/m for the broadband service).
The Local Government Association has highlighted that with the USO under review and the possibility that the USO may be served by different providers in different areas that social tariffs should be an inclusive component of the USO.
BT Basic line rental is available on its own, but finding broadband at a similar low price without the requirement for that providers own line rental product can be difficult, and while some promotional offers once you include cashback and voucher offers can almost match the price, once the 12 or 18 month contract is over prices will jump significantly.
"BT already provides a basic subsidised BT telephony and broadband package to its qualifying customers. The LGA believes that a similar offer should be provided by any supplier/s that would deliver the USO. This would mean that people who qualify for a basic reduced service would be able to request a connection of at least 10Mbps at an affordable cost should their current package not be up to speed. The call forms part of the LGA's submission to the Government ahead of the Autumn Statement on 23 November."LGA calls for broadband USO to include social tariff for most in need
Even without the forthcoming USO, there is a wider question that Ofcom may need to consider and that is for those where superfast solutions have been deployed which may for the first time be bringing broadband to an area at speeds beyond dial-up and ISDN. We know Gigaclear in its BDUK project areas usually has an additional lower priced tariff, and some developers of social housing do include a basic free product, but relying on the corporate responsibility of operators is not going to be enough in the long term.
The USO and social tariffs need not be fixed line based either, e.g. if the aim is to ensure access to digital government services and other services (such as banking) that are now harder to do offline than online and we accept usage limits then mobile (4G) services may suffice.