In September 2021, BNP Paribas Fortis and Proximus, along with 30 major Belgian companies, public bodies and social organisations, signed a Digital Inclusion Charter – a commitment to fight for digital inclusion.
To highlight why digital inclusion was so important, Proximus pointed out the findings of a report by the King Baudouin Foundation.
- 1 in 10 Belgian households had no Internet access – with this being the case for 1 in 3 low-income families
- 40% of Belgians are at risk of digital exclusion
- 57% of Belgians with “low levels of education” have never used the Internet to submit essential documents (such as tax returns) to the government.
The Digital Inclusion Ecosystem (DigitAll) is currently working on a national awareness campaign regarding the importance of digital inclusion, an assessment of the user friendliness of digital tools in the form of a digital inclusion index, and a mobile solution to teach digital skills to hard-to-reach groups.
“Proximus is committed to making digital technologies accessible to everyone, regardless of physical abilities, economic background, cultural origin, education or age,” commented Guillaume Boutin, CEO Proximus.
Boutin’s company has now taken the next step in its commitment to digital inclusion, launching ‘Internet for All’, which will provide an Internet connection to thousands of economically-disadvantaged Belgians. This will include a free router, 40GB of mobile data each month and technical support. The offering is being provided in partnership with the Belgian government, which will subsidise the cost of the service. Social organisations will determine who is eligible.
One of the key trends of 2022 is going to be an increasing number of CSPs reaffirming their commitment to digital inclusion. This marks a shift in emphasis away from gigabytes and speeds towards customer-centricity and the social benefits of digital technology.
Only by passionately focusing on customers will CSPs avoid becoming bitpipes and secure a valuable role in the future digital ecosystem for themselves. This particular project is a win-win. It helps vulnerable customers while also insulating Proximus from risk, providing great PR and helping it strategically build the Belgian digital market – not only by creating new consumers but by enabling more people to use digital tools to build and grow SMEs and microbusinesses.