PCCW Global
20 Nov 2018

Improving connectivity to reduce digital exclusion

Around 21% of the UK adult population lacks basic digital skills. Often, people who are socially excluded also face digital exclusion, such as those living in social housing, those on lower wages, older people or those with a disability. This lack of skills is making it harder for people to live in our increasingly connected world, potentially leaving them at a disadvantage.

One of the primary causes of digital exclusion is a lack of access to fast, affordable and reliable broadband in the home. Whilst the overwhelming majority of people in social housing can access services from mainstream providers, often the cost is too high for those on a fixed budget or the more affordable services are simply too slow and unreliable to take advantage of the latest services.

Digital exclusion is causing a growing number of problems in society. Many local councils are moving services online, so being able to access these services is important to residents. Paying for services, requesting information or making appointments are all much easier via the Internet than routing through a busy and overstretched call centre. Another problem is a lack of access to the best value services. Many utility companies now offer significantly better deals to customers who choose to manage their account entirely online. If people can't access these services then they are potentially having to pay more than they need to. Technology developments have also brought about changes to the way we communicate with each other and consume media. Not having a fast and reliable broadband connection means millions of people are simply missing out on socialising with friends and family, finding out about the latest news or jobs or can't watch on-demand programming like the majority of the population.

Providing connectivity services to these groups is not a high priority for the mainstream providers such as BT, Talk Talk or Sky, this leaves opportunities for suppliers such as PCCW Global to step in. Having identified the need for improving digital inclusion, PCCW Global have designed solutions for both housing association, other social housing as well as assisted living accommodation. Built using robust architecture, fast and reliable connectivity is delivered to residents at a truly affordable price. The service provides a great way to improve the experience of residents, allowing them to do more online from organising their utilities, learning new skills and providing access to educational resources for children.

In an assisted living environment the system can be configured to offer two levels of access. A 'walled garden' allows residents to access a selection of approved websites for free, for example, local government or library services. Alternatively they can pay a fee to unlock the full internet for a very reasonable price.

If rates of digital exclusion are to fall then housing associations and other providers must look to invest in improving the connectivity amongst their residents. To find out more about PCCW Global's range of solutions visit our solutions page.

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