A community-owned internet service will be piloted in London next year with the aim of increasing access to, and affordability of, broadband.
The new project is spearheaded by Promising Trouble, a social enterprise based in the capital that aims to leverage “community power” for positive developments in tech.
The pilot is designed to democratise online connectivity at a time when many homeowners are struggling to pay for broadband.
Project Trouble founder Rachel Coldicutt believes that people should have the ability to “shape their own tech”.
She said: “At the moment, it’s big tech’s world and we’re just living in it”.
The project will go some way to addressing that imbalance, although Coldicutt admits that many critics have called the idea “crazy”.
The community-owned service would enable people to connect to broadband for free or at a very low cost.
It will be targeted at those that cannot afford even basic internet services.
The pilot will be limited to the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark initially, but further expansion is possible depending on its success.
The team at Project Trouble are currently assessing tech solutions that can support the internet service.
They also want to ensure any governance and regulatory issues associated with running a broadband service are addressed.
An initial trial will reach around 500 households in London. If successful, the pilot will go live at some point in 2024.
It could offer timely respite for many homeowners who don’t have broadband at home.
Around 20% of the 1.7m UK households without any form of connectivity say that cost issues are preventing them from going online.
The cost-of-living crisis has also forced 1m people to give up broadband contracts.