Spark New Zealand would boost the data allocation on its not-for-profit wireless broadband product, Skinny Jump, to keep digitally excluded households across Aotearoa connected as data usage and cost-of-living pressures continue to rise.
“While Kiwis across the country are feeling the squeeze of rising inflation, for some households these extra costs could mean having to choose between buying food to feed the family or paying the power bill to keep warm in winter. Unfortunately, for many of these households having an internet connection at home can be a luxury they just can’t afford. But as our world has dramatically shifted online over the last few years of Covid, this puts kiwis on the wrong side of the digital divide at a significant disadvantage – which is where Skinny Jump comes in,” says Spark CEO, Jolie Hodson.
“Not being able to get online is no longer just an inconvenience – it means missing out on access to key services such as online banking, not being able to work remotely, kids falling behind at school, and losing the opportunity to learn key digital skills. And with our workforce becoming increasingly digital, this puts these individuals at risk of falling even further behind their peers.”
From today, Skinny Jump will provide 35GB of data for just $5, with the first 15GB of data each month free. Additionally, customers now have the option to purchase up to six top-ups a month. All together this means Jump customers can access 225GB for just $30 a month.
Critically there are no contracts or credit checks required to access the service, and it comes with a free wireless broadband modem that is pre-loaded with 35GB of data so that customers can get online straight away.
Jump was first launched in 2016, for households with school-aged children, but in March 2020, just as Aotearoa entered its first Covid-19 lockdown, the eligibility criteria were extended to include anyone who finds that cost is a barrier to having an internet connection at home. At that time there were just 4,000 households connected – but fast forward to 2022, after more than two years of living with Covid, and Skinny Jump now supports over 22,000 households across the country.
As Jump is a subsidised broadband product for communities in need, it is not available in-store or online, but via a network of around 300 community partners across Aotearoa, including local libraries and community centres.
Last year Spark Foundation launched two new programmes that offer Jump free to eligible households.
The ‘Ciena Jump for Students Fund’ offers eligible students from Deciles 1 – 5 schools across New Zealand a free Skinny Jump wireless modem and broadband connection – including 210GB of free data per month. There are currently over 300 students across Aotearoa using this service.
‘Awhi Matihiko: Red Cross Digital Settlement Package’, was also launched last year, which is a collaboration between the Spark Foundation, New Zealand Red Cross, Internet NZ, and Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa, which offers new refugees Skinny Jump (with data paid for 12 months), a Chromebook (laptop), and if required, digital skills training.
“We know that internet access isn’t a silver bullet that’s going to solve digital equity on its own,” Hodson continues.
“But for the 1 in 5 Kiwis who may be facing digital exclusion, it gets them to the starting line. Ultimately, having affordable access means more Kiwis have an opportunity to participate in the digital world.”