WQ91088 (e) Tabled on 07/02/2024

What support is Welsh Government offering to older people and other groups who may experience digital exclusion in light of providers switching off 3G?

Answered by Minister for Social Justice and Chief Whip | Answered on 13/02/2024

We are committed to improving the digital skills of citizens across Wales. Through our digital inclusion and health procured programme, Digital Communities Wales: Digital Confidence, Health and Well-being (DCW), we continue to work with organisations from all sectors that can help reach digitally excluded people. The programme is designed to provide training and support to front line staff and organisations to engage with and develop the basic digital skills of citizens and enable them to engage with vital services. 

Whilst, following the draft budget in December 2023, the funding for DCW has been reduced, we have ensured the focus of the programme will be prioritised for older people, social housing residents and ethnic minority communities. Since the contract started, in July 2019, DCW has supported an estimated 152,000 citizens with the motivation and basic digital skills.

The sunsetting of 3G is being led by the mobile telecommunications industry. Telecommunications policy is not devolved to Wales and responsibility for 3G sunsetting rests with the UK Government alongside the telecommunications regulator Ofcom.  Welsh Government officials attend a cross-Whitehall group on the sunsetting of 3G to ensure that the interests of Wales are represented.

We have not undertaken our own assessment of how many people will become digitally excluded from the sunsetting of 3G. However, we understand that only a small proportion of mobile phone activity now uses 3G networks.