Research and Development

Exploring affordable broadband

With Promising Trouble

Key partnership information 

  • Partner: Promising Trouble
  • Funding amount: £380,520
  • Duration: February 2023 – February 2025
  • Programme: Research and Development

What we’re doing together 

As more of our lives are lived out online so too are our health services, but those without a reliable internet connection often struggle to access the services they need.  

For those disproportionately affected by poor health outcomes, being digitally excluded becomes a barrier to good health.  It can also have wider impacts such as limiting access to employment opportunities or welfare support.  

Barriers go beyond connecting to the internet. Many healthcare services are increasingly dependent on people using applications, filling-in online forms and downloading documents. 

Being comfortable using applications, navigating PDF documents and filling-in forms are important digital skills that help people interact with healthcare providers.

Without a secure and reliable home internet connection, people can become digitally excluded, and this can deepen health, economic and social inequalities. Rethinking internet access so that it’s affordable to people living on low incomes is a real opportunity to give more people access to essential services and social connections.

Rachel Coldicutt Director of Promising Trouble

In 2022, we worked with Promising Trouble to understand the barriers to internet connectivity, the effect that it has on people’s health and the different approaches used to improve digital access.  

Building on these insights, we’re working with Promising Trouble to connect with groups in Lambeth and Southwark to explore new ways of offering affordable, community-centered internet access.  

Aims of the partnership 

We want to develop and test a solution that offers a high-quality internet connection to homes in Lambeth or Southwark that is extremely affordable for people living on low incomes. We will also explore how improved digital access affects people’s health and wellbeing. 

People that have experienced digital exclusion will be invited to be part of the process, working alongside technical experts, researchers and local organisations to design a blueprint for what connectivity could look like in urban places. 

This will look beyond technology and infrastructure to also consider other potential challenges of getting people online, such as skills, awareness, and motivation. 

As part of this work Promising Trouble will bring together a Digital Access Innovation Lab, made up of internet service providers and technology companies with partners from across the local community to test a way of providing free or very low-cost internet access. We hope to implement what we’ve learnt at a pilot site in 2024. 

We will then share what we’ve learnt with anyone interested in tackling digital exclusion, including internet providers, councils, housing associations and healthcare organisations. 

Connection to our strategy 

Our work on digital exclusion is part of our Future Cities strand, which identifies and explores trends and innovation that can unlock new areas and ideas for achieving health equity. 

Digital exclusion affects health outcomes both directly and indirectly: 

  • Directly: through limiting access to health services run on digital platforms. The NHS is increasingly moving health services online – for example, outpatient and primary care appointments are now often delivered online.
  • Indirectly: by preventing people from making applications for welfare support, limiting their access to finding employment opportunities and support services, and causing social isolation. This exclusion can further exacerbate health inequalities, increasing the risk of disease, stress, and negatively impacting people’s mental health. 

More about Promising Trouble

Promising Trouble specialise in policy development, research and prototyping that helps technology work for more of us, more of the time.

Visit Promising Trouble's website
Amandeep Singh Kellay

Have questions about our partnership with Promising Trouble?

Amandeep Singh-Kellay is our Portfolio Manager who is leading this partnership.

Contact Amandeep