The UK’s leading mobile and broadband operators have promised to enact measures that will keep vulnerable customers connected during the coronavirus crisis.
Communications networks have assumed greater importance in recent weeks as restrictions on movement and school closures have led to an increase in remote working and education as well as heightened demand for entertainment services.
The evidence suggests that infrastructure is coping well despite the additional demand, while many operators have made offers of additional data and pledged not to leave anyone disconnected. Such assurances have now been formalised following talks between industry, the government and Ofcom.
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Major telcos have promised to remove data caps on residential broadband services and offer new, generous landline and mobile packages to ensure the most vulnerable in society are supported. All have said they will ensure customers can receive alternative methods of communication if repairs to their existing connection cannot be repaired.
Finally, BT-EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, and KCOM have all agreed to with customers who have difficulty paying their bills and ensure no one vulnerable is left without Internet access.
"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."
“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,” said Melanie Dawes, Ofcom CEO. “We’ll continue to work with Government and industry to help make sure people stay connected.”
“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,” added Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.
“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.”
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.