As part of a series of measures between the government and UK’s telecom companies, the major internet providers would be removing all data caps for consumers. This removal of data caps applies to only fixed-line services during the coronavirus pandemic. No FUPs or similar caveats would apply in such cases.
As per the deal, all forms of data allowance capping for broadband connections would be removed. This comes into effect immediately. It has been agreed to by all major mobile and internet service providers, including KCOM, BT/EE, Virgin Media, TalkTalk, Sky, O2, Three, Vodafone, Gigaclear and Hyperpoptic. As per the Department for Digital Media & Sport, all the companies have pledged to help those suffering to pay their bills during this pandemic. They would be provided with fair treatment and appropriate support.
Lifting of data cap is not the only measure. Telecom companies are also rolling out a series of generous landline and mobile packages to help people stay connected and provide support to the most vulnerable. Such packages would include low-priced data boosts as well as free calling from a mobile and/or landlines.
People who are in self-isolation or the ones who are vulnerable and require priority repairs for landlines and broadbands which cannot be carried out would also be given alternative channels of communication. However, what these alternative means would be and any other details around the same are yet to be shared.
As per Oliver Dowden, digital secretary, these measures from broadband and mobile-internet providers to do their bit and help the nation by taking care of customers is a fantastic thing. Several customers who are struggling to pay their bills would benefit. People need to stay indoors for protecting the NHS and to save lives. Packages like these are ensuring that people continue to stay home and stay connected. The companies are working further to prioritize repairs for the most vulnerable wherever possible.
Many firms did advertise ‘unlimited’ plans earlier as well. However, these had FUP or Fair-usage policies built into their terms, as per which the prices would increase or speed would decrease beyond a certain limit. However, UK’s advertising laws were changed to ensure that any references to such unlimited plans could not come with such conditions.
Kcom, which providers several low-cost plans for people on government benefits, did state that data caps would remain for activities like media downloads, streaming and gaming.
Melanie Dawes, who is the chief executive for Ofcom, the industry watchdog, recognized the unprecedented times and challenges that service-providers are facing. Despite that, their efforts to protect customers during a time when staying in touch with friends and family is of utmost importance, is a welcome step.
The executives from the firms stated that it is important for everyone to stay connected now more than ever. In this period of uncertainty, people must not be worried about how they would stay in touch with their loved ones. In a joint statement, the executives assured that the companies are working tirelessly to ensure that the country is connected.
Clive Selley, who is the chief executive for Openarch, mentioned that the majority of their daily work- including repairs, increasing capacity, and creating a faster and reliable fibre network can be done outside. The firm’s engineers and field-teams would continue these tasks to ensure continuity of service across the United Kingdom.
The chief executive for British Telecom’s Consumer Division, Marc Allera, stated that the company’s priority was to ensure that their colleagues are safe and all its customers, especially the most vulnerable ones, remain connected. While most of the benefits mentioned by the companies are already in effect, more details on the other steps being taken are awaited. In times like these, any measure taken by telecom and internet companies to help consumers would surely be a welcome change.