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Openreach is scrapping connection fees for its superfast broadband network for low-income homes.
The BT-owned firm - which manages the telephone cables, ducts, cabinets and exchanges that connect much of the UK - will waive installation costs for those who receive Universal Credit with no other earnings.
The offer will be available to eligible new customers from 5 October and people could save up to £92 ($126), but it will be up to their provider to pass on the savings.
Internet service providers (ISPs) normally take the charge and factor into the cost of their services. Openreach said firms could pass on the saving by making it cheaper for low-income households to get online upfront, or over the course of their contract term.
It comes after a report from regulator Ofcom found that two million households struggle to afford internet, and a good broadband connection can provide 'better access to education and employment opportunities, as well as wider benefits such as social inclusion'.
Digital infrastructure minister Matt Warman welcomed the announcement.
He said: "We have been working closely with Openreach and the wider sector to build a broadband market where cost is not a constraint to getting online.
"This welcome step will help people struggling with bills access the connectivity they need to thrive in today's digital age."
Our 'Connect the Unconnected' offer is designed to help those most at risk when not connected to our #network - an estimated one million people throughout the country. #WeAreOpenreach pic.twitter.com/0zItK17weL- Openreach (@WeAreOpenreach) September 7, 2021
Katie Milligan, Openreach's managing director for customer, commercial and propositions, added: "We hope this offer complements the range of existing support from providers across the industry and helps people who aren't already online to start benefiting from the wealth of information, connectivity and opportunities that great broadband can deliver."
But Mark Jackson, editor-in-chief of broadband news site ISP Review, said the eligibility conditions means the offer 'may only have a limited impact'.
He added that smaller ISPs don't have systems in place to identify customers on universal credit.
He told the BBC: "The big players, like BT do, but smaller ISPs may have to weigh up whether the restricted availability makes it worthwhile to even attempt to do that."
There are also question marks about how savings will be passed on to customers, and while Ofcom admitted it can't force ISPs to do so, a spokesperson said 'clearly the right thing to do would be to pass it on'.
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