Virgin Media O2 launches the National Databank nationwide
Virgin Media O2 has pledged even more free O2 mobile data in response to the data crisis in the UK, with 1.5 million homes currently without internet access. Following the success of a three-month National Databank pilot scheme and building on the 7.5 million GB of O2 mobile data already donated, Virgin Media O2 will gift 10GB of data to the National Databank for every plan purchased between 1 November 2021 and 31 January 2022.
The National Databank was created by Virgin Media O2, working closely with Good Things Foundation and other digital inclusion experts including Community Organisers, Operation Wi-Fi, Hubbub and Nominet, and has been gifted to Good Things Foundation to run through its network of 5,000 community groups. The National Databank provides a central hub where community groups can access free ‘data voucher codes’ and SIM cards for anyone who needs them. Those accessing free data will also be offered additional support – including digital skills training and signposting to other essential services.
Maria, 30 from Birmingham explained how the data voucher she received from the National Databank pilot programme completely transformed her life. Maria said: “The donation has allowed me to order prescriptions and attend GP video calls and online physiotherapy sessions for my disabled mother, but most importantly it has provided an escape for me at a difficult time.”
Amir, 41 from Northumberland added: “I was struggling to put food on the table, let alone able to afford any data to use the internet, but through the National Databank programme the whole family has benefitted.” Originally from Syria, Amir’s family has struggled to make ends meet, but thanks to free data from the National Databank, Amir has been able to reach out to employers and make new contacts, and his children have been able to access the internet for educational purposes.
As well as its data pledge, Virgin Media O2 has donated £500,000 to Good Things Foundation to cover the operational costs of running the Databank. It will also be increasing the free monthly data allowance for each voucher available through the National Databank from 7GB per month to 15GB per month in its fight to combat data poverty and get people connected.
Lutz Schüler, Chief Executive Officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “With many millions of people still facing digital exclusion, now is the time to come together and close the gap on digital inequality, and build a lasting legacy to help end data poverty for good. The success of the pilot scheme has shown us just how important the National Databank is to those who need it – and as it rolls out across the UK, we want to do even more.
“Through our data pledge this Christmas, we’re calling on our customers to help us triple our original donation, and connect the disconnected when they need it most.”
The launch of the National Databank follows a series of moves from Virgin Media O2 to support vulnerable customers during the COVID-19 pandemic – from free mobile data, devices and TV channels, to permanently zero-rating NHS and education websites. Last autumn – in the height of the second wave – Virgin Media launched its Essential Broadband service for customers who are struggling financially and receiving Universal Credit.
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