An interesting joint statement from the Government, Ofcom and the telecommunications industry has been published to help offer support to vulnerable consumers and those who may become vulnerable due to circumstances arising from COVID-19.
The UK’s major internet service and mobile providers, namely BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, and KCOM have all agreed the following commitments, effective immediately (from 29 March 2020):
- All providers have committed to working with customers who find it difficult to pay their bill as a result of COVID-19 to ensure that they are treated fairly and appropriately supported.
- All providers will remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services.
- All providers have agreed to offer some new, generous mobile and landline packages to ensure people are connected and the most vulnerable continue to be supported. For example, some of these packages include data boosts at low prices and free calls from their landline or mobile.
- All providers will ensure that vulnerable customers or those self-isolating receive alternative methods of communication wherever possible if priority repairs to fixed broadband and landlines cannot be carried out.
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.
There have also been other specific measures announced by UK operators to support their customers through this pandemic such as offering additional TV channels free of charge.