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Virgin cuts price of social broadband tariff

Emma Lunn
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Emma Lunn

Virgin Media O2 has cut the cost of its ‘Essential’ broadband tariff from £15 to £12.50 a month.

The move means Virgin is now offering the cheapest broadband tariff designed for households on Universal Credit. All the other social broadband tariffs from other providers cost at least £15 a month.

Virgin Media O2’s price drop is effective immediately for both new and existing customers.

Virgin will also launch a new, faster tier called ‘Essential Broadband Plus’ next month, that will deliver speeds of 50Mbps for £20 per month. All Essential Broadband products come with no fixed-term contract and no activation fees.

In addition, Virgin is giving Essential Broadband Plus customers the option to add Virgin Media O2’s latest entertainment product, called Stream, for a one-off fee of £20 with no long-term contract or ongoing charges for the basic package.

Stream plugs into any TV and combines live TV, on-demand apps, popular streaming subscriptions and must-watch movies all in one place. It normally costs an upfront fee of £35.

Awareness of social broadband deals needed

Virgin’s price change comes just two weeks after telecoms regulator Ofcom urged firms to do more to advertise their social broadband deals, after finding that 70% of eligible customers were missing out on these cheap deals. Ofcom also reported that about 8 million households were struggling to pay their phone and broadband bills.

Charities have raised concern in recent months that a lack of internet access is holding people back from essential day-to-day activities – from shopping and entertainment to job searching and access to a range of online services.

Virgin Media says it has also taken proactive steps to publicise the support on offer by including information about Essential Broadband on its website, social media channels and in the communications it sends to customers every year related to their contract.

Jeff Dodds, chief operating officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “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.”

How much do other social broadband tariffs cost?

At £12.50 a month, Virgin now offers the cheapest social broadband tariff. However, it’s also the slowest.

Here’s what other telecoms firms offer households on low incomes or claiming Universal Credit:

  • BT Home Essentials costs £15 a month for 36Mb or £20 a month for 67Mb. Both deals come with a £9.99 one-off upfront fee.
  • G Network Essential Fibre is only available in London. It costs £15 a month for 50Mb.
  • Hyperoptic Fair Fibre is £15 a month for 50Mb or £25 a month for 150Mb.
  • Now Broadband Basics is £20 a month for 36Mb.
  • Sky Broadband Basics is £20 a month for 36Mb.
  • TalkTalk offers benefits claimants six months of Fibre35 broadband for free – after six months customers can cancel or roll onto a TalkTalk contract.