UK telecom companies remove data caps during coronavirus crisis

BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone will all adhere to the government's plans

The government has announced that some of the UK’s largest telecom companies will remove all data caps on fixed-line broadband services in the face of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Internet service and mobile providers BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, and KCOM have agreed to take additional steps to support vulnerable customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has not only impacted the health and lives of many, but caused an economic crisis which saw many people get laid off. 

In a joint statement from the government, Ofcom, and the telecommunications industry, they pledged to “remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services”, “offer some new, generous mobile and landline packages to ensure people are connected”, and to make sure “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 thanked the telecom industries for taking part in a “national effort”.

“It’s fantastic to see mobile and broadband providers (...)  helping customers, particularly the most vulnerable, who may be struggling with bills at this difficult time,” said 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.”

The decision comes after prime minister Boris Johnson had called for support from the UK tech sector in battling the COVID-19 pandemic at a digital summit at 10 Downing Street earlier this month. Since then, the PM and BT CEO Philip Jansen had tested positive for the virus.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer division said: “The service and connectivity that BT provides are more critical today than they ever have been in our lifetime. During this national and global crisis, our priorities are the safety of our colleagues and ensuring that our customers, particularly those that are vulnerable, stay connected.”

While the UK telecoms industry mobilises to help in the fight against COVID-19, the virus is set to have a significant impact on the industry with it estimated it will cost telecom operators $25 billion in lost roaming revenue

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