Essex-based community provider County Broadband has donated £10,000 worth of computer equipment to help lift disadvantaged people out of digital inequality across the county.
County Broadband has partnered with Digital Essex to support its Laptop Recycling Scheme in which unused laptops under seven years old are digitally wiped and recycled. The money raised is then used to buy brand new laptops for individuals and families classed as being ‘digitally excluded’.
People identified as ‘digital excluded’ are defined as being unable to access digital technology adequately or permanently. This could be through a lack of digital skills for educational reasons or being unable to afford devices such as smartphones or computers for financial reasons, or both.
Aldham-based County Broadband, which is rolling out gigabit-speed full fibre infrastructure in rural Essex and across the East of England, has raised an estimated £10,000 with its donation of 12 laptops and six desktop computers.
The full fibre broadband infrastructure will help to ensure residents and local businesses are not excluded from vital digital services such as online shopping, banking, health services, educational resources, and staying in touch with loved ones.
Craig Larter, Stakeholder Engagement Manager at County Broadband, said: “We are pleased to be able to donate these laptops knowing they will help those in need across Essex to access important everyday online services that are easy to take for granted.
“In our increasingly digital world, no-one should be excluded from the right to benefit from online banking or digital health services that can make a huge difference to the lives of vulnerable people.
“We are committed to supporting our rural communities, whether that’s through our full fibre rollout or supporting a good cause, and we look forward to partnering again with Digital Essex in the future.”
An estimated 1.3 million UK households do not own an internet-enabled device, according to a recent government report on digital exclusion.
Digital Essex is part of Essex County Council and is the central body for countywide digital initiatives.
Cllr Louise McKinlay, Essex County Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Levelling Up and the Economy, said: “We would like to thank County Broadband for their generous donation of laptops and desktop computers. These will be used to help the many families and older residents who are offline and rely on donations like these to interact with the online world.
“With the support of County Broadband, we are helping to close the digital divide in Essex by giving residents the tools they need to get online.”
County Broadband is designing, building and deploying full fibre broadband infrastructure in over 250 rural and hard-to-reach communities across Essex and the East of England.
Full-fibre broadband is centred on fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) infrastructure where fibre optic cables are installed directly into premises to provide download and upload gigabit-capable speeds of 1,000 Mbps to meet rising demand. The speeds can be upgraded to over 10,000 Mbps in the future.
Network reliability is also vastly superior to current copper-based superfast internet that dates to the Victorians due to the technology of the fibre optic cables and having no copper in the network.
Meanwhile, County Broadband has launched a new community grant-giving independent charity, the Hypercharged Foundation. It has been set up with thousands of pounds of grant funding available to support local organisations making a positive impact in rural communities across the East of England.