Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Belgian telecom provider Telenet wants to offer a basic internet service for €5 per month to 10,000 vulnerable families by the end of 2021.
Telenet will collaborate with Public Centres for Social Welfare as well as education and social and middle field organisations. The target audience consists of vulnerable groups who have no or very limited internet connection at home. Telenet will offer the subscription exclusively via social organisations.
In December the project will start in Brussels, Mechelen, and a second Flemish city that has yet to be disclosed. In the course of next year, Telenet intends to roll it out more widely to 10,000 families.
The basic service is provided via a small device that converts the mobile 4G signal into Wifi, as opposed to traditional fixed internet via cable.
Telenet does not say how much it is investing in the project. Among other things, the company is buying the 4G modems that are needed and there are currently about ten employees working on the development and roll-out, said Ineke Rampart, director of corporate affairs at Telenet.
The offer is not a fully-fledged contemporary connection. As the plan now looks, it would be a package with limited volume (20 gigabytes per month) and speed (5 mbps).
“It is designed to enable people to participate in the digital economy: collecting information, communicating, taking training courses, looking for work, keeping in touch with administrations. So, basic activities,” Rampart said.
There is already a discount for certain vulnerable groups via the statutory social rate. “That will continue to exist, but this is an initiative that we are taking ourselves and in which we may also reach other people who are not covered by the conditions of the social tariff.
Telenet also distributed vouchers for free internet via its public Wi-Fi points during the coronavirus crisis. More than 6,000 families have used them since March, according to the provider. Requests for these codes are on the rise again.
The Brussels Times