Vodafone is offering all small businesses in the UK free broadband for 2021 as reliance on internet access increases during lockdown.
The network operator said all firms with between one and 50 employees would be able to apply for the new scheme, including existing Vodafone customers who are eligible to upgrade.
The scheme will see those who take up the offer receive free broadband as part of a 36-month plan, with the cost then referring to the standard rate of either £22.50 or £25 a month, excluding VAT, after the first free 12 months (depending on the broadband package chosen).
Vodafone confirmed the scheme also includes a one-time £20 fee to cover set-up costs but said there would be no further payment required until the thirteenth month of the contract.
The announcement comes as the network operator published research from Enterprise Nation which found that 71% of small businesses said they are now more reliant than ever on broadband because of the pandemic and social distancing measures forcing firms online.
According to the research, the number of small businesses running entirely online has doubled during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Anne Sheehan, business director at Vodafone UK, said: ‘The message to small businesses is clear: we’re here to help.
‘Businesses need to be running as efficiently as possible in 2021 – that means getting online, using the best digital tools, getting the best business advice, and spending as little money as possible.’
‘It’s great to see how businesses adapted throughout last year, and we’re here to help more do the same in 2021.’
Enterprise Nation founder Emma Jones added: ‘2020 will go down as the year business went online – we have seen small businesses in their droves pivot to build websites, embrace social media and rely on video platforms to keep in touch with their teams.
‘To succeed for the longer term, this requires strong broadband that won’t let you down and investment in digital technology.
‘This generous offer from Vodafone will be a great help for small firms as they pick themselves up after the impact of the pandemic and keep building their business.’