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The 4th Utility ISP Preps New UK Full Fibre Broadband Social Tariff UPDATE

Saturday, May 14th, 2022 (7:41 am) - Score 2,904
4th Utility Fibre Exploding in City Picture

UK ISP 4th Utility, which is currently ramping up their rollout of a gigabit-capable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network to include more homes (SDU) and large residential blocks (MDU), appears to be preparing to launch a cheaper “social tariff” package for those on benefits. But for now it’s only available to one building.

The Government and Ofcom are currently trying to encourage more ISPs to proactively introduce or upgrade and promote low-cost social tariffs, which are usually aimed at those in the most disadvantaged groups who may be struggling to pay their bills (i.e. low income, unemployed etc.). A small but growing number of providers have now done this.

NOTE: Ofcom state that 55,000 homes have taken such a tariff (1.2% of those eligible).

The latest provider to join this club appears to be 4th Utility, which according to the Express & Star has just made their new broadband social tariff available to residents of a large 1,200 property strong residential block (WATMOS Community Homes) on Lichfield Street in Walsall (West Midlands).

Sadly, we couldn’t find a press release or any solid details on the new social tariff itself, except that it will offer a 30-day term and – we presume – be more affordable than their regular broadband packages. We suspect this may be because 4th Utility hasn’t yet launched the tariff across their entire network, but they are planning to do that soon and we hope to be able to update this article shortly with more details.

Tony Hughes, CEO of 4th Utility, said:

“We’re delighted to announce the launch of our new social tariff – and we hope it can make life slightly easier for those who most need it, starting with more than 1,000 homes in the West Midlands. Digital inclusivity is hugely important in helping to reduce the digital divide across the nation, and 4th Utility is committed to championing it across the board.

More focus needs to be applied in this area as the heightened cost of living pressures we’re currently facing take full effect. We agree that there should be better information on more affordable social tariffs, and they must be easy to access for those subscribing to the service.”

In terms of the operator’s normal commercial tariffs, customers typically pay from around £25 per month for a symmetric speed 50Mbps broadband package and this goes up to around £60 for their top 300Mbps – 1000Mbps home tiers. Prices, service speeds and activation fees can vary a bit between specific developments, which makes them hard to pin down. Any social tariff will probably be cheaper than the entry-level above (most operators usually aim for around £15 per month).

Otherwise, the current expectation is that 4th Utility will have passed 36,000 homes by now and then 94,000 homes by the end of December 2022, which represents a significant ramping-up of their prior build rate. In theory, that should give them a reasonable shot at hitting their original build target (i.e. 300,000 premises by around autumn 2023 – here), provided they keep ramping-up through 2023.

UPDATE 5:43pm

The company’s social tariff is currently 30Mbps upload and download, costing £14.40 a month.

Leave a Comment
3 Responses
  1. BOB EELES says:

    Why are the Toby connection boxes mostly always cited on the property boundary, have recently had Cityfibre go live with Vodafone as the FF installer here in Westcliff-on-Sea so I cancelled my existing broadband supplier and placed my order for FF, great I thought, how wrong I was as the engineers told me that the entry point into my property that I asked for would require a FF cable run of 21 meters with 8 bends which is not good, so I asked for the Toby box to be moved and was told that this was not an option due to cost, so now I’m left with no broadband and totally frustrated because if the Toby box was cited at the end of my driveway it would be a straight run of 5 metres to the living room, why cannot property owners be consulted when these cables are being laid.

  2. Martin says:

    Why do we even need social tariffs for broadband? This is virtue signalling to please local councils and is a waste of time.

    Why not make it that price for everybody?

    So you can save £5/MONTH on your broadband while the very same customer puts £5/DAY EXTRA on their gas and electricity meters. Now you see how silly this penny-shaving discount is?

    1. Mark Jackson says:

      I’m in two minds about it, but if a private company wants to do something like this, even if its impact is limited, then that’s up to them and no doubt some of those on low incomes with appreciate it. Across a year, that’s still c.£60 extra that you can put on something else.

      Social tariffs are usually positioned close to cost price, so the reason why ISPs don’t adopt the same pricing for every package is because they’re commercial companies and need to make a profit in order to satisfy their investors etc.

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