What broadband providers are doing to help customers during COVID-19
We are living in a new world, a world racing online as social distancing forces many of us to work, communicate and connect in new ways. As a result, most of the UK’s major internet service providers (ISPs) have agreed to take new measures to help support their customers and the wider community as a whole during this time.
Commitment from most major providers
BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, and KCOM are some of the providers that are involved, all of which have stated that they will remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services.
Broadband providers have also pledged to provide fair treatment and appropriate support to anyone struggling to pay their bills due to Covid-19, while any vulnerable or self-isolating customers will be given alternative methods of communication where possible if repairs cannot be carried out.
Each of the major providers are doing different things to help their customers during this difficult time.
Vodafone UK has recently launched a broadband rescue package for the UK’s community of more than five million small businesses to help them get through the Covid-19 crisis and return to work.
Vodafone will make Unlimited Business Broadband and Microsoft 365 Business Standard free for six months, with the offer available to all small business owners, including those already in a contract with Vodafone. The new offer can be taken up any time in the next three months.
This means that small business owners, even those who are already Vodafone broadband customers, can sign up to a new 24-month contract and have the first six months completely free, with no set-up costs. After the first six months, the monthly fee will be the standard Unlimited Vodafone Business Broadband price of £19.17 (excl. VAT) per month for the remaining 18 months, and Microsoft 365 Business Standard for £9.40 (excl. VAT) per month.
Vodafone is also providing valuable financial support to small businesses struggling with bill repayments, including a six-month payment plan to spread the cost of their mobile services, and a guarantee that businesses will not lose Vodafone services as a result of late payments.
Virgin Media is already serving its customers with some of the fastest broadband speeds in the country, but it’s also adding some extras to help parents and those working from home cope with the recent changes.
Virgin Media are giving a free boost to over a million of its customers who currently pay for speeds under 100Mbps from superfast broadband to ultrafast M100 Fibre Broadband. They are also boosting Oomph customers with M100 Fibre Broadband to M200 Fibre Broadband.
With more people at home all day than ever, Virgin Media is offering millions of its TV customers additional channels at no extra cost. These include Discovery, Fox, Gold, Sky One, Sky Comedy, Sky Witness, Alibi, Nat Geo and Comedy Central Extra. With cinemas closing, they've secured some brand new films on current release to watch now on Virgin Movies, and at a reduced price for their customers. These are Emma, The Hunt and The Invisible Man – ideal when the kids are in bed – and Trolls World Tour.
As staying connected matters most right now, Virgin Media have made sure customers on Virgin Media's Talk Protected plan can now get free daytime calls to home phone numbers.
At time of writing, Virgin Media is still continuing to install its services to new customers, with additional precautions in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. There are also self-installing Quickstart packs that don’t require an outside engineer to come to your home in order to get you set up with cable broadband.
At the time of writing, Sky has paused all of its pay-TV and broadband & TV bundle deals, choosing to instead focus on broadband-only deals and as reliable a service as possible for its existing customers. Sky has also made some of its paid services free of charge and is introducing new services to help keep customers entertained while stuck at home.
Since you probably won’t be able to go to the cinema for a while, Sky Cinema is making a range of movies available in your home via Sky Store on the same day as the global release. The first film you can watch at home is the DreamWorks Animation Troll World Tour which was released on 6th April. Other films including Emma, The Invisible Man and The Hunt are also available now.
With all major sporting events being put on hold, Sky Sports customers are able to pause their subscriptions without being charged or being held to any notice period.
Sky Q customers are able to add on additional streaming services that can be accessed directly through the Sky Q box. These include Netflix, Disney+ and YouTube Kids, however there will be an additional charge to access this content.
TalkTalk are implementing a UK-based dedicated customer support team for vulnerable customers. It also paused inflationary increases in bills from April for out of contract customers while extending payment windows for struggling customers.
TalkTalk is also offering a £5 voucher on TalkTalk TV, helping to keep customers entertained while at home. TalkTalk are also working with NHS Digital to offer free connectivity to care homes to help them respond to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as providing free upgrades for clinicians needing to work from home with increased bandwidth to carry out appointments or to download scans and other large images.
Like all the major providers, BT has removed capped broadband usage for customers, allowing them to use unlimited data when staying at home. BT is also removing its out-of-bundle charges for the most critical services, such as UK landline and mobile calls, for its vulnerable customers and placing a £5-per-month cap so customers can keep in touch without worrying about overspending.
With no live sports being aired, BT customers on a Flexible TV package are able to pause their BT Sport subscription whenever they choose. Customers who are on another package would need to upgrade to a Flexible TV package in order to pause BT Sport, however they would get three months extra BT Sport for free when they do. BT is also offering customers a bill credit worth the value of one month of BT Sport. You also have the option to donate this credit to the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.