EE launches initiative to tackle digital exclusion across the north east

  • The UK's largest and most advanced communications company, in support of Go ON North East, launches new initiatives to tackle digital exclusion across the region
  • Company to bring superfast 4G to four cities across the North East by the end of 2013, donate 4G mobile broadband technology to increase digital skills, and host digital skills sessions across local communities

Newcastle - EE, the UK's most advanced digital communications company, has today launched a series of initiatives in the North East to boost the online skills of communities and small businesses across the region. The initiatives support the kick off of Go ON North East, a programme that aims to 'super charge' digital skills activity across the region, led by Go ON UK,  the cross-sector charity established by Baroness Lane-Fox.

Research has revealed that 500,000[1] adults in the North East lack basic online skills. Go ON UK and its founder partners, including EE, are aiming to reduce this figure by 25 per cent in the next 12 months.

EE CEO Olaf Swantee said: "Digital exclusion is a serious issue. Research shows that being online has significant benefits for people; from improving educational outcomes of young people to countering social isolation and depression among the elderly. By improving the UK’s digital infrastructure and sharing the magic of technology, we can help people get more from the digital world."

With 5,000 staff in contact centres in North Tyneside, Darlington and Doxford, EE is one of the biggest employers in the North East and is committed to improving connectivity and digital skills across the region. EE is launching a number of initiatives in the North East to help tackle digital exclusion:

4GEE in the North East

EE is investing £53.9 million in the North East to be first to provide superfast 4G mobile services, which offer instant, superfast internet access on mobile devices. Importantly, for those who are experiencing mobile connectivity for the first time, 4G offers a way of connecting to high-speed internet that doesn’t require a landline, fixed location or a long term contract.

4G from EE is coming to four more towns across the North East before the end of 2013. Houghton-Le-Spring and Chester-Le-Street will be switched on by 1st October, and Middlesbrough and Darlington will be live by the end of the year. Over 50% of the UK population across the North East will be covered in 2013, rising to 60% in Q1 2014. 

This adds to a number of towns across the North East that now have 4G from EE including Newcastle and Sunderland, two of only 20 towns across the UK to experience double speed 4G from EE.

EE is the first and only provider to offer 4G on Pay as You Go Mobile Broadband plans, which makes getting online easier for people who aren’t able to commit to a monthly broadband contract or pass a credit check – which fixed broadband providers generally require. EE will be donating 100 4G mobile wifi hot-spots, loaded with data, to community organisations across the region to enable them to deliver digital inclusion projects in areas of need.  

EE Techy Tea Parties

EE will run a series of Techy Tea Parties across the North East. At a Techy Tea Party guests from Age UK spend around two hours one-to-one with an EE volunteer, who helps them with their tech challenges, over some tea and biscuits. This might be teaching them how to text, showing them how an iPad works or helping them set up an email account. Across the first week of October EE will be running Techy Tea Parties in Middlesbrough, Darlington, Newcastle and Sunderland.  

EE Digital Champions

EE will also run Digital Champions sessions hosted by employees who are specially trained to go out in to the community and inspire people to give the internet a go. Research shows that a lack of interest in the internet and a feeling of 'it’s not for me' is one of the biggest obstacles to getting online – our programme addresses this.

EE Digital Living Website

EE is continuing to expand and share its Digital Living resources so that people anywhere across the North East have simple materials at their finger tips to inspire their friends, families and colleagues to get online. EE has created a host of downloadable materials at that make it easy to talk about all the great reasons to get online and address common concerns.

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For more information, please contact the EE press team on:
0845 373 7070

About EE

EE is the largest and most advanced digital communications company in Britain, delivering mobile and fixed communications services to consumers, businesses, government and the wholesale market.

With more than 15,000 employees and 600 retail stores, EE serves more than 27 million customers on EE, Orange and T-Mobile mobile and broadband plans.

EE runs the UK's biggest and fastest mobile network, having introduced the UK's first and only superfast 4G mobile service in 2012. In August 2013 EE's 4G coverage reached 60% of the UK population, with plans to cover 98% of the population by 2014.  2G and 3G coverage currently reaches more than 99% of the population. EE's superfast fibre broadband service covers 54% of the UK population, and ADSL broadband service covers 98.7% of the population. 

EE has received extensive independent recognition including being ranked the UK's best overall network by RootMetrics®, and Best Network for Business at the 2013 Mobile Industry awards. 

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About Go ON UK

Go ON UK is a cross-sector charity which was established in 2012 to encourage and support people, business and charities to enjoy the benefits of being online. Go ON UK has nine chief executives around its boardroom table – Age UK, Argos, BBC, Big Lottery Fund, E.ON, EE, Lloyds Banking Group, Post Office and TalkTalk. Together, Go ON UK's vision is to make the UK the world’s most digitally skilled nation.

About Go ON North East

Go ON North East is working with people and partners to kickstart its regional digital skills roll out in the North East of England from 1st October.  This is the first regional pathfinder being rolled out by Go ON UK and partners to help increase the Basic Online Skills of individuals, SMEs and charities.  The Pathfinder will provide a platform for a sustainable digital skills programme in the North East and a replicable model for other UK regions to use to improve their digital skills. 

[1] IPSOS MORI BBC Digital Capabilities Update, 6th- 15th September 2013 Sample size of all respondents: 2,083, North East: 86. Regions in Scotland have been combined as have Wales & West and South West due to sample sizes.