Housing providers can now offer cost-effective internet connections and devices to their tenants, with the launch of a new shared internet service from BT Business. The service delivers an internet connection, which could include shared access between residents to reduce monthly rental costs, and an affordable device, as well as training and support for tenants.
The introduction of the DI service follows BT’s work with the Wheatley Group (parent to Glasgow Housing Association) and the Scottish Government to offer affordable wi-fi access to over 100 households in one of GHA’s multi-story properties.
The initiative won ‘ICT Connect Award 2014 – Connecting Citizens’, and used Archos 97 Tablets and Samsung Google Chromebooks to give 138 homes access to high speed wi-fi throughout the building, linking back into the main BT network via a single BTnet connection.
As a result of the scheme, two-thirds of tenants are actively seeking employment online, with four per cent finding jobs in the first six months of the pilot project. A third of tenants also reported that they had saved money as a result of internet access, with 65 per cent saving more than £100.
BT supplies the service to the housing provider, rather than individual tenants, so that the housing provider can choose the best option for each facility – whether that’s charging on a per unit basis or making wi-fi available in communal areas, in the case of care homes. As a result, tenants can get easy access to the internet without having to worry about things like credit checks, and many housing providers are expected to include installation costs in their pricing.
Graham Sutherland, CEO, BT Business, said, “With over four million tenants in social housing having never used the internet, we are working with housing providers to help those on low incomes or who are unemployed, elderly or disabled gain access to the internet.”
Richard Troote, head of ICT, Wales & West Housing, said, “There are a number of drivers for us to provide internet at home to our residents, including the forthcoming implementation of universal credit, which means people have to be online or at least have access to the internet.
“There are also a number of barriers that, until now, have prevented many residents from having broadband at home. Working with BT Business has allowed us to go a long way towards eliminating those barriers, so that we can provide cost-effective internet access, as well as the training and technical support our tenants need.”