HARD-UP Brits can get free mobile data from Virgin Media O2 to ensure they stay connected this Christmas.
The telecoms giant is already providing free sims and mobile data, as well as talk minutes and texts, to people struggling to get online via the National Databank.
It has been compared to a food bank but for internet connectivity data – but the registration process can be complex.
But Virgin Media O2 will now help more people who need free mobile data by piloting the National Databank on the high street for the first time across 10 O2 stores.
Struggling Brits used to search their local Good Things Foundation affiliated community center to get the free data.
To simplify the process, struggling Brits can now access the National Databank right on the high street.
Eligible customers who visit one of the 10 O2 stores can get 20GB of free O2 data per month for up to six months.
This is enough for about 220 hours of internet browsing per month.
Virgin Media O2 has said that the participating O2 stores are in towns and cities where the free data will help those in need.
This includes communities where people are most likely to be digitally excluded.
Struggling Brits can get the free data at the following O2 stores:
- Broadstairs (Thanet Westwood Cross)
- Hull (Jameson Street)
- Stockton-on-Tees (Teesside Retail Park)
Those who are eligible can get support by going to one of the participating stores and asking an O2 employee who has been trained to use the National Databank’s platform for a 20GB data voucher.
Gareth Turpin, head commercial at Virgin Media O2, said: “We are stepping up our support during the cost of living crisis to help even more people stay connected this Christmas.
“It’s now easier than ever for those in need to access the National Database right on the high street via our O2 stores, so they can get online and connect with essential services – from medical appointments to jobs apply.”
Do I qualify for the free data?
To be eligible for the data boost, you must be at least 18 years old and must come from a low-income household.
You must also qualify in one or more of the following statements:
- Does not have access or insufficient access to the Internet at home
- And/or has no or insufficient access to the Internet when away from home
- And/or cannot afford or increase their existing monthly contract
How does it work?
Staff and volunteers at selected O2 stores or online centers in the Good Things Foundation network assess the needs of people they support.
They then use the database to get sims and then hand them out.
So to access the free data you need to get support from an online center first.
You can find details of your nearest online center here.
The amount that goes out will vary. It is decided based on your financial situation and how much data is available.
Support is also offered to those who struggle to use the internet, with tools to help increase confidence in basic IT skills.
Tackling data poverty in the UK
The database was first piloted with Virgin Media O2, and has now been rolled out nationally.
In January 2022, the program expanded with mobile internet data from Vodafone.
The Good Things Foundation is now calling on the rest of the UK’s mobile networks to join the National Databank to “end data poverty for good”.
The data boost will be welcome as the cost of living crisis continues to bite millions across the country – with many facing increasing hardship.