30 Jul 2020

Why Key Workers must be better connected

The recent Covid-19 pandemic has shone the light onto a group of population known as ‘Key Workers’, a term that may be unfamiliar to many.

The government defines key workers as people employed in essential services including: Doctors, nurses, fire fighters, prison officers and care workers. These people are required to work in all parts of the country including big cities where often their pay levels make it difficult for them to find suitable accommodation at a reasonable price.

To help these key workers a number of developments have grown up which are designed specifically for key workers. Many of these are close to major hospitals and provide quality, affordable housing for those working there. Many of these developments are owned and operated by housing associations who’ve recognised the need for such properties. The type of accommodation varies from single flats with their own facilities to flats for 5 or 6 individuals with common kitchens and living areas.

In most cases this accommodation has been largely ignored by mainstream providers in terms of connectivity for the residents. It’s deemed either not high priority for them or their business model does not suit the often-short-term nature of the tenancies. This leaves key worker residents in these properties at a disadvantage when compared to other parts of the population.

Just like the rest of us, key workers still need to get online to access many services such as banking, council services or paying bills so it might seem odd that for many of them it’s difficult or expensive to get a good quality internet connection. They are in many cases simply forgotten when it comes to accessing modern levels of connectivity.

Increasingly though housing associations are beginning to see the value and importance of improving access to superfast broadband for key worker residents. They realise that it’s of increasing importance to residents every day lives and it provides the association a valuable differentiator, increasing resident satisfaction and reducing costly void periods.

Installation and provision of services to this type of accommodation is usually fairly straightforward. A high-speed circuit is delivered to the building before a comprehensive wireless overlay is provided throughout the property, allowing residents to get online quickly and easily with the minimum of fuss. Such an install typically delivers speeds of up to 80Mbps, more than enough for resident’s personal and study needs. No longer do they have to rely on costly and variable mobile data plans or be tied to lengthy contracts. Many housing associations include the cost of basic internet in their rent so it doesn’t matter whether someone is staying for a few days, weeks or even years, they never need to worry about being tied down.

Throughout the last few months, we’ve all become much more aware of key workers and the vital roles they perform in our society. Many of us have put up signs thanking them or stood outside and clapped for our key workers during these difficult times. But as we start to return to something resembling our normal lives, we mustn’t forget our key workers. We are all thankful for their hard work and dedication so we should do more to help recognise them and to ensure that they have access to services such as fast, reliable and cost-effective broadband that many of us take for granted.

PCCW Global Networks (UK) Ltd have been shortlisted for the ISPA Social Impact Award for 2020, for providing improved connectivity to key workers. You can read a case study here.

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