New rules announced today by Ofcom will finally put disabled people in the UK at the front of the queue when it comes to getting their broadband problems sorted.
The changes are due to come into force from 1 October 2018.
It will force all UK broadband providers whether local, national or international, to give disabled people priority on broadband fault repairs.
Rules are already in place to help disabled people get their services back up and running when their landline or mobile services go down, but this is the first time broadband has been added to the mix.
It’s good news for people who face extra struggles to get online.
Ofcom have also announced they’ll pressure ISPs like Sky, BT and TalkTalk to set up accessible bills for people with visual or physical disabilities.
Broadband is now considered an essential household utility just the same as phones, electricity or gas.
And decent internet is a vital component of getting disabled people online to access all the services we take for granted, like internet-only council services, social media and price comparison to reduce monthly bills.
BroadbandDeals.co.uk spoke to leading disability charity Scope to see what the rule change might mean for their members.
Minesh Patel, Policy and Campaigns Officer at Scope told us: “The internet can be a lifeline for disabled people, enabling many to work and socialise.
“Priority repairs will mean those who rely on the internet in this way won’t be cut off for long periods of time.
“It’s great that Ofcom is taking steps to ensure disabled customers who experience problems with their broadband are prioritised and have access to third-party bill management and accessible bills, which were previously only requirements for landline and mobile services.”
With inflation on the rise and consumer confidence faltering, broadband is normally the first place people look to slash their monthly outgoings.
But there is still a long way to go so that disabled people aren’t cut off from accessing vital services, say Scope.
Minesh Patel added: “There is still a vast digital divide between disabled people and non-disabled people. 22% of disabled adults have never used the internet compared to 5% of non-disabled adults.
“Government and business must tackle the barriers disabled people often face to getting online, including ensuring websites are fully accessible.”