Millions offered half price broadband from BT

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BT has announced plans to offer fibre broadband at more than half price to any household in the UK which is receiving universal credit.

More than four million households will be eligible for the Home Essentials package, which will launch next month.

The average fibre package in the UK costs about £25 a month, according to comparison site Uswitch.

People eligible for BT Home Essentials will pay £15 a month for speeds of about 36 megabits per second (Mbps).

BT’s equivalent broadband package for those not on universal credit costs £32.99 a month.

Marc Allera, chief executive of BT’s consumer division, said the company hoped to offer help to millions who are struggling to get back on to their feet following the pandemic.

There is a range of other telecoms companies offering low-cost fibre and high-speed broadband across the UK.

Plusnet offers new customers speeds of around 66Mbps for £24.99 a month, while Vodafone currently offers average speeds of 63Mbps for £22 a month. Neither had an up-front cost, as of April.

Virgin Media also offers existing customers who are on universal credit speeds of about 15Mbps for £15 a month.

‘Ethics ahead of profits’

“BT’s Home Essentials is entering the market as one of the cheapest packages currently available, and certainly very good value for basic fibre,” James Wittams-Smith, commercial director at comparison website Usave, told the BBC.

“It’s great to see companies starting to consider ethics ahead of profits especially in today’s climate. Hopefully, we’ll start to see more organisations following suit.”

Matt Howett, from analysts Assembly Research, added: “Recognising the need to be connected, and the financial hardship customers faced, many operators have taken steps to ensure access to vital services.

“We’ve really seen the sector step up and respond to the challenging circumstances many customers have found themselves in.”

The market is becoming increasingly competitive as ultrafast and fibre broadband expands across the UK.

The entire country was expected to receive ultrafast broadband by 2025, however, following delays that figure has been reduced to 85%.

The infrastructure build should start in 2022 with a budget of £5bn, the government has said.

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