Spotlight on digital inclusion and ethical initiatives in UK mobile
Mobile phones are an integral aspect of modern life, not only keeping people connected with each other but also offering access to millions of apps, songs and shows on the move.
For a significant number of people, their smartphone is their only way of accessing the internet. The Ofcom Adults’ Media Use and Attitudes report published in March 2022 found 21% were accessing the internet exclusively via a smartphone, with the financially vulnerable and those in C2 or DE households proving more likely to.
This means UK mobile providers and the services they offer, both to their own customers and the public more generally, are more important than ever, and that’s something we wanted to highlight in our 2022 Choose Mobile Awards.
The categories of Digital Inclusion, Ethical Initiatives, Community Contribution and Innovation all focused on the different ways mobile providers are adapting to meet the needs of customers and to improve services for the wider public.
Our trio of winners in the Digital Inclusion category have all funded inclusion projects to offer mobile services to those most in need of them. For instance, the Gold award was given to Virgin Media O2 for their collaboration with the Good Things Foundation on the National Databank. This project distributes mobile data SIMs through the Foundation’s networks, ensuring that connectivity gets to those who need it most. Meanwhile, Silver was awarded to VOXI for their 2021 initiative offering discounts to jobseekers and their parent company Vodafone took Bronze for their ongoing efforts to connect a million digitally excluded people by the end of 2022.
In the aftermath of COP26, mobile companies’ pledges on cutting carbon emissions and improving their e-waste strategies remain in the spotlight. Again, Virgin Media O2 took Gold in the Ethical Initiatives category for a raft of sustainability initiatives to reduce their own carbon footprint alongside other initiatives such as the O2 Recycling scheme that has avoided sending e-waste worth £250 million to landfill since 2009.
The Community Contribution category focused on communities both here in the UK and those abroad, recognising that mobile providers are acting nationally and internationally. Our Gold winner in this category was small operator Lycamobile, partly for their East London football initiatives alongside West Ham United and partly for their response to global emergencies in places like Sudan, Afghanistan and Ukraine. On a similar note, we awarded Sky Mobile Silver in this category for their mobile data donation appeal that allows their customers to donate unused data that is then translated into aid provided by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).
Finally, Choose looked at the ways mobile providers are employing innovative techniques to help their customers and the wider public. Our Gold winner in this category was Sky Mobile and their Sky Piggybank feature that allows customers to save and share unused mobile data, as well as cashing it in for discounts. This is a consumer-friendly innovation that directly helps families manage their data needs and sits neatly alongside Sky’s Mix feature that enables customers to upgrade and downgrade their data allowance during their minimum term. This type of flexibility on a fixed mobile plan is rare, yet it has the potential to be incredibly useful for customers struggling with their monthly outgoings during a cost of living crisis.
The Choose Mobile Awards also recognised major winners in more traditional categories, with EE picking up the Gold awards s`afor Best Coverage and Fastest Network while Three took Gold in the Best for 5G category. GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Sky Mobile were all recognised with a Best Customer Services award. The Best Overall Gold and Silver awards were handed to Sky Mobile and EE respectively, with their performance in a range of categories ensuring they stand out from the crowd in 2022.
For further information and a full list of winners, visit: Choose Mobile Awards 2022.