UK broadband providers have committed to introducing a range of new measures to protect consumers during the coronavirus pandemic.
A host of companies have agreed to remove data allowance caps on current fixed broadband services and will offer assistance to customers finding it difficult to pay their bills as a result of COVID-19.
New mobile and landlines packages will also be rolled-out by telecoms providers to ensure that consumers remain connected amid a period of isolation for millions across the country. Some of these new packages will include data boosts and free calls from landlines or mobiles, the UK Government confirmed.
Companies that have agreed to the government’s proposals include:
- Virgin Media
Commenting on the announcement, Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “It’s fantastic to see mobile and broadband providers pulling together to do their bit for the national effort by helping customers, particularly the most vulnerable, who may be struggling with bills at this difficult time.
“It is essential that people stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. This package helps people to stay connected whilst they stay home.”
Melanie Dawes, CEO of Ofcom, added: “We recognise providers are dealing with unprecedented challenges at the moment. So we welcome them stepping up to protect vulnerable customers at a time when keeping in touch with our friends and families has never been more important. We’ll continue to work with Government and industry to help make sure people stay connected.”
The new commitments will see providers ensure that vulnerable customers – or those self-isolating – will receive “alternative methods of communication” if priority repairs to landlines or broadband cannot be carried out.
Last week, Openreach announced it would no longer send engineers to fit home broadband until after June 1st in order to protect staff and customers. The firm also advised engineers to avoid entering customer premises as a significant portion of work can now be completed outside.
Clive Selley, CEO of Openreach said: “With connections to more than 24 million customer premises across the UK, we know our network is critical. We’ll do everything we can to keep people connected while prioritising our support for critical public services, vulnerable customers and those without a working line.
“Thankfully a large amount of the work we do – including fixing faults, adding capacity and building faster, more reliable full-fibre networks – can be completed outside, so you’ll still see Openreach engineers working to maintain service across the UK.”