An Internet connection for thousands of economically disadvantaged Belgians

Thanks to the validation by the Federal Minister for Telecommunications, Petra De Sutter, of its "Internet for all" project, Proximus is even more contributing to combating digital exclusion. For some years now, Proximus has been initiating various projects that bring the digital world within the reach of all, by investing in training people of all ages and origin, and as a partner of DigitAll, a national network of the stakeholders sharing their know-how and combating digital exclusion.

In practical terms, this project offers beneficiaries a modem and a monthly volume of data. The subsidies make it possible to provide thousands of people in precarious situations in Belgium with a free modem that can connect to a mobile network. At the same time, Proximus offers 40 GB/month of mobile data for one year, an offer that may be renewed depending on the user's situation. This project is implemented in partnership with social organizations. Proximus asks the associations that wish to participate in the project to make themselves known.

Consulting mails, performing administrative procedures, surfing on social networks, following classes online: the digital world is part of nearly every Belgian's life today. The past year has seen an enormous growth in distance teaching and people working at home as a result of the lockdowns as a consequence of Covid-19. This demonstrated once again the extent to which an Internet connection has become a tool that is essential in order to access a whole series of online services.

Unfortunately, part of the Belgian population has been left by the wayside. In order to address this issue and facilitate digital inclusion, Proximus is launching the project, "Internet for All". Within the framework of this initiative, Proximus is offering an Internet connection to thousands of economically disadvantaged Belgians.

In practical terms, the federal government's subsidies mean that the beneficiaries can be given a modem that will allow them to connect to the Internet via a mobile network, together with the technical support. At the same time, Proximus will cover the other operational costs and offer 40 GB/month for one year, an offer that may be renewed depending on the user's situation. Should the limit of 40 GB be exceeded, the surfing speed will slow down (512 kbps), but no surcharge will be billed.

The distribution of modems will depend on the availability of stocks and end by 30 June 2022 at the latest.

Social bodies will play an essential role

The "Internet for All" project is being implemented in partnership with social bodies, such as the municipal social welfare centers (CPAS/OCMW). They will play an important role as they will identify and inform those who are eligible. In other words, the beneficiaries of these social organizations will have to go through them to request their free Internet connection. That is why Proximus is asking the social bodies that are not yet registered and which are in contact with economically disadvantaged people to make themselves known. They may register using the online form that is intended for such organizations:

"Internet for All" is a response to the call for projects launched by the federal government in 2021 and, more specifically, by the Minister for Telecommunications, Petra De Sutter, who wishes to reduce the digital divide by assisting economically disadvantaged individuals, the elderly and students to become more connected.

At a time of homeworking, distance teaching, quarantines and periods of isolation, an Internet connection is a key element for social and professional contact. In short, to be able to be part of society. 9% of Belgian households do not have an Internet connection at home and risk social exclusion. Therefore, I welcome the "Internet for All" project launched by Proximus as it will enable thousands of additional people to be able also to participate in 'Smartschool'' classes or meeting held via Teams or Zoom.

image not available

Here, at Proximus, we are determined to make digital technology accessible to all the citizens of this country, irrespective of their physical capacity, economic situation, cultural origin, education or age. And it starts with an internet connection. I am therefore grateful to all the Proximus teams who, with the support of the federal government, have succeeded in setting up this "Internet for All" project, which represents a step towards greater digital inclusion in Belgian society.