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Vodafone launches faster social broadband tariff

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

Fibre 2 Essentials costs £20 a month and offers speeds of up to 73Mbps.

The deal is a new addition to Vodafone’s existing social tariff. Fibre 1 Essential costs £12 a month for 38Mbps and is the cheapest social tariff on the market.

Eligible customers can sign up for either tariff without a set-up fee. They can also leave for free at any time and won’t be subject to in-contract price rises.

Vodafone’s social tariffs are available to anyone on Job Seekers Allowance, Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Reduced Earnings Allowance, Disability Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, or Pension Credit.

Vodafone also offers a social mobile tariff via its subsidiary brand Voxi. Voxi For Now offers unlimited 5G data for £10 a month.

As well as launching a second social broadband tariff, Vodafone has called upon Openreach to provide a wholesale cost for vulnerable customers.

Ahmed Essam, Vodafone UK CEO, said: “We have led the way in social tariffs, being the first to launch both fixed and mobile connectivity and having the cheapest social broadband product on the market since October last year.

“We have now heard the call for telecoms providers to do more to support people in the cost-of-living crisis and offer social tariffs that meet the needs of different households, so we are continuing to lead the way by promoting a new faster speed, social broadband tariff to our existing portfolio. Connectivity isn’t a luxury; we are doing all we can to make sure everyone can stay connected.”

What is a social broadband tariff?

Social tariffs provide cheaper broadband packages for people claiming certain benefits such as Universal Credit or Pension Credit. Some providers call them ‘essential’ or ‘basic’ broadband.

Social broadband tariffs are available to an estimated 4.3 million households that receive one of a range of Government benefits.

But some telecoms firms have been accused of hiding details of social tariffs on hard-to-find pages on their websites, and not actively marketing the tariffs to customers who might benefit.

When YourMoney.com investigated social tariffs last year we found it was virtually impossible to locate details of the cut-price deals on BT, Sky and Now Broadband websites. Vodafone was one of a small number of providers which made it easier to find details of its social tariff.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “We’re pleased that Vodafone has responded with this new faster offering following Which?’s campaigning in this area.

“Which? research has found worries about the speed of social tariffs can be a barrier to take up. A range of social tariff options ensures eligible consumers can choose the right connection for their household’s needs.

“Ofcom, Which? and others have repeatedly called on broadband providers to do more to promote these tariffs to eligible customers and they must ramp up these efforts. Firms should also let customers on any contract leave without exit fees when switching to a social tariff – especially if they do not offer discounted tariffs themselves.”

Alex Tofts, broadband expert at Broadband Genie, said: “The arrival of Fibre 2 Essentials is a positive step that underlines Vodafone’s commitment to discounted deals for households that need them.

“While its 73Mb download rates can be beaten by some altnets like Hyperoptic, Fibre 2 is the fastest social tariff available from a mainstream provider and actually measures in at a fraction above the UK’s average speed (72.2Mb). This would be suitable for busy households of up to five people.

“At £20 per month – or 66p per day – it is one of the most expensive reduced-price deals on the market, but eligible customers will still be able to select Vodafone’s current Essentials Broadband, which is 38Mb for £12 a month.

“Importantly, it means Vodafone joins other national broadband suppliers like BT and Virgin in offering different social tariff options and is helping to ensure these packages are not seen as the poor relation alongside other standard-priced deals.”