Celebrating innovation and inclusion initiatives in UK broadband
Connectivity is recognised as one of the pillars of modern society, bringing people closer together and having a positive economic impact on the country too.
With more organisations moving towards “digital by default” and households more reliant on technology since the coronavirus pandemic began, the Choose Broadband Awards 2022 aimed to spotlight the ways in which broadband providers are working to improve the lives of their customers.
In the categories of Community Contribution, Digital Inclusion, Ethical Initiatives and Innovation, we explored which ISPs have taken extra steps to support customers, society and the climate.
The Community Contribution and Digital Inclusion awards focused on the ways broadband providers are helping in the areas where their networks are deployed and what measures they are taking to improve digital confidence among the wider population.
Our Gold winner in the Community Contribution category was London ISP Community Fibre. They took the top prize due to their strategy of connecting community centres and libraries to their full fibre network for free, bringing speeds of up to 1Gbps to communities, as well as providing digital and device training sessions to enhance digital skills. They also have a programme to train Digital Ambassadors who then themselves help to improve digital skills within their communities.
In the category of Digital Inclusion, we recognised Hyperoptic with the Gold award for their Affordable Product Scheme. Under this scheme, the provider has partnered with over 50 councils to fund free 50Mb broadband connections for 10% of a social housing portfolio for 12 months. As there are no preliminary or financial checks, it is solely down to the social housing provider to allocate funding based on need.
A similar scheme helped TalkTalk take the Silver award in this category. Their partnership with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to provide six months’ free internet to jobseekers nationwide is another programme based on identification of customers who would most benefit from the service.
In our Ethical Initiatives category, Choose examined which providers are taking steps towards carbon neutrality, an issue that remains in the spotlight following the COP26 summit in Glasgow in November 2021.
We awarded Zen Internet the Gold in this category due to their B Corp and Carbon Neutral Plus status. Certified B Corporations aim to balance profit and purpose, meeting high standards of social and environmental performance as well as being transparent and accountable about their operations. Combined with their commitment to carbon offsetting and becoming a net zero organisation, Zen Internet is a market leader in this regard.
Finally, our Innovation award aimed to showcase new technologies and demonstrate how broadband providers are working towards improving their services for the benefit of their customers.
Gold was awarded to small ISP YouFibre for their marketing of a 10Gbps residential broadband line to some households, improving ten-fold on the Government’s aim to roll out gigabit-capable broadband to premises.
Silver and Bronze awards in this category were handed to Community Fibre and Hyperoptic respectively. Community Fibre has partnered with Lifemote to develop an AI troubleshooting system that helps to fix broadband issues before customers become aware of them, while Hyperoptic has worked with Sero, Cardiff Council and Wates Residential in Cardiff to pilot a dedicated second broadband line for smart home technology designed to improve energy management.
As well as recognising the inclusion and innovation initiatives of broadband providers, the Choose Broadband Awards also identified those ISPs offering exceptional value or cheaper services to households.
In the midst of a cost of living crisis that has seen inflation rise to 5.5% so far, it remains important for customers to access affordable broadband deals that allow them to cut down their outgoings and improve their financial resilience in difficult times.
So, our awards also presented Golds for Now (Best Value), Virgin Media (Fastest), Plusnet (Most Reliable) and Sky (Best Customer Service). For more information about all winners, see the full list here: Choose Broadband Awards 2022.