VMO2 extends the National Databank to the high street

UK operator group VMO2 is bringing an initiative designed to ensure ‘digital inclusion’ to some of its shops, in a bid to make it more accessible.

The National Databank is run by digital inclusion charity Good Things Foundation. It was first unveiled in the summer of last year and with everything that has happened in the world since then seems more timely than ever. It essentially offers free mobile data to those in need, on the assumption that being connected has become a vital utility. As well as VMO2, Vodafone and Three are also chipping data into a pot that aims to help out half a million people.

Since some of those in need are presumably already digitally excluded, it makes sense to give them a non-digital way of getting hold of this vital data. VMO2 appears to be the first of the operators involved to have this bright idea and is piloting access to the National Databank at ten of its shops. Those in need just need to turn up, ask an O2 representative and potentially walk out with a 20GB data voucher.

The O2 stores taking part in the pilot are in Ballymena, Broadstairs (Thanet Westwood Cross) Colchester, Hastings, Hull (Jameson Street), Norwich, Newport, Perth, Plymouth, and Stockton-on-Tees (Teesside Retail Park).

“Having sufficient data in our increasingly digital society is not a nice to have, it’s an absolute essential,” said Helen Milner, Chief Exec of Good Things Foundation. “If you’re not online you can’t save money on products and services, help your children to participate in home-learning, and apply for jobs. With two million households struggling to afford internet access in the UK today – and 10 million adults lacking the most basic digital skills, everyone needs to do even more to build a movement for digital inclusion that leaves no-one behind.”

As well as issuing press releases such as this one, O2’s Christmas ad campaign seems to be going big on the philanthropic angle. It is producing ‘O2 Christmas SIM Cards’ that are apparently free and grant 7GB of data. As winter kicks in, with the associated soaring heating costs and general seasonal gloom, expect utilities of all kinds to regularly make a point of expressing their empathy with the plight of their punters.

“We’re stepping up our support during the cost-of-living crisis to help even more people stay connected this Christmas,” said Gareth Turpin, Chief Commercial Officer at VMO2. “It’s now going to be easier than ever for those in need to access the National Databank directly on the High Street via our O2 stores, so they can get online and connect to essential services – from medical appointments to applying for jobs.

“And with our additional 1 million GB of free data available via special Christmas SIM Cards, Virgin Media O2 is helping more people get the data they need, so they can stay in touch with loved ones over the festive period.”


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