How to get online for less in lockdown

Written by Catherine Makin on 04 Feb, 21
Focus on city challenges World-class connectivity

Many people on limited means are unaware of social tariffs from internet service providers to get home broadband at a reduced price.  Disadvantaged school children and students could also benefit from free mobile data and 4G wireless routes in a Government scheme.

Social tariffs from internet service providers

Provider Name of package Who’s eligible Features and current price Link
BT BT Basic
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pensions Credit (Guaranteed Credit)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (Income related)
  • Universal Credit (and are on zero earnings)


Phone and broadband
As well as getting free weekend calls (up to sixty minutes duration) to 0845 and 0870 numbers, it comes with a call allowance of £1.50 and a £10 monthly price cap.
Data is capped (although this has been removed during COVID)
How do I find out more about BT Basic? | BT Help
Virgin Media VM Essential broadband UC claimants No contract
Fixed price
15 mbps
£15 per month
Virgin Media broadband for Universal Credit claimants –

Other options are well explained here by Go Compare – Broadband for those on benefits.

Get free data from mobile providers during the pandemic

Department for Education (DfE) is working in partnership with mobile network operators to help schools support disadvantaged pupils in years 3 to 11 who rely on a mobile internet connection when their face-to-face education is disrupted by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Disadvantaged families may be able to benefit from free increases from their mobile provider. Find out more about help available with technology and getting online during the pandemic.

The pandemic data offers for disadvantaged people from mobile companies vary both in terms of who’s eligible and what they get, so people should contact their mobile service provider to see what’s available.

4G wireless routers

Information on the Government’s scheme to distribute 4G wireless routers to disadvantaged school children and students – find out more

Tethering devices to a phone

Rather than reinvent the wheel, the process for Android and IOS phones is described here: How To Tether Android, iPhone & more (

  • You need to check that your mobile provider permits tethering (most do)
  • You need to be careful that you respect data limits to avoid additional charges.

Further information and resources

Wired – How to access free broadband

BBC – get a free laptop or cheaper broadband

BBC – access to learning resources

Font size