Connectivity boost for vulnerable consumers and NHS staff

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  • New deals mean many NHS frontline staff get data, texts and calls at no extra cost
  • New mobile and landline packages to help vulnerable consumers stay connected
  • Follows commitments made by UK’s major internet service and mobile providers

More companies have agreed to give NHS frontline staff across the UK who are existing customers the data, texts and calls they need at no additional cost. Other measures include a move to prioritise broadband upgrades for NHS clinicians working from home.

Other firms are committing to work with customers who find it difficult to pay their bill as a result of coronavirus, remove data allowances on fixed broadband services and offer generous new mobile and landline packages.

The move follows two previous announcements that the UK’s major internet service and mobile providers had agreed commitments to support and protect vulnerable consumers and the NHS.

Matt Warman, Minister for Digital Infrastructure, said:

Our telecoms industry is doing vital work keeping the UK connected. I thank all the companies and workers doing their bit for the national effort and to support the NHS.

Today a number of providers have agreed new commitments so vulnerable consumers and frontline NHS staff have an extra level of support with their mobile and broadband connections.

Supporting the NHS

Post Office, Voneus, Community Fibre, Spectrum, Wightfibre, Ask4, Zzoom, Lycamobile and iD mobile, have agreed, for some or all of the Covid-19 period, to support NHS workers by:

  • Giving NHS frontline staff, who are existing customers, the data, texts and calls they need at no additional cost;
  • Prioritising broadband upgrades for NHS clinicians working from home;
  • Improving connectivity for care homes with slow or no broadband connections, wherever possible.

Some of the above providers who have also signed up to the vulnerable consumer commitments are offering more generous mobile data allowances. This should help patients who can only use their mobile phones for video consultations.

Supporting vulnerable consumers

Post Office, Voneus, Community Fibre, Spectrum, Tesco Mobile, iD Mobile and giffgaff will support vulnerable consumers by:

Committing to work 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; – Removing data allowances on fixed broadband services; – Offering new, generous mobile and landline packages to help people stay connected; – Providing alternative means of communication to vulnerable consumers and those self-isolating if priority repairs to fixed broadband and landlines cannot be completed.

FURTHER QUOTES

Andrew Glover, Chair of Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) said:

ISPA supports these measures and have been working with our broader membership on how vulnerable consumers and NHS staff can be provided with the support they need at this time. We are delighted that more of our members are able to commit publicly to these important schemes.

This all comes in addition to a lot of work that broadband providers have been doing behind the scenes to keep the country connected, from connecting new hospitals to supporting those working and learning from home.

Meredith Sharples, Director for Telecoms at the Post Office said:

NHS workers have given their all in this pandemic and we are pleased to support them where we can. We will offer NHS home working clinicians an upgrade to our best service available so that they can continue to deliver their outstanding work. Being able to easily stay in contact with others, whether it’s for work or for personal reasons, is key to getting through this public health emergency and we are determined to continue supporting our customers to do that.

Tom Denyard, CEO of Tesco Mobile said:

It’s our privilege to be able to help people stay connected, especially our frontline NHS staff and vulnerable customers. We want to do all we can to help those that have been impacted by the crisis, as well as recognising our incredible NHS workers for everything they’ve done and continue to do.

We hope our Little Helps offer some comfort during this difficult time, but if customers need support or are worried about anything on their account, we encourage them to get in touch.

Ash Schofield, CEO at giffgaff said:

At giffgaff, we have always had community at our heart and never has a sense of community been more important. Already supporting NHS staff by ensuring they never run out of data as they work from home helping serve their patients, we have also set up goodybank, our initiative to help vulnerable members during this current crisis.

We want people to know they can ask for help and someone will always be there to offer that support and keep them connected. We’re proud to say that our members are an altruistic bunch, and the goodybank also allows them to get involved should they wish to help.

Alex Baldock, CEO Dixons Carphone, parent company for iD Mobile said:

At iD Mobile and Dixons Carphone, we can see how much it matters to people in this pandemic to stay connected with loved ones. I’m humbled by the speed and skill with which thousands of our colleagues have reacted to COVID-19, and I’m proud of our work to help our dedicated NHS workers, and also those older people most vulnerable to isolation.

Allirajah Subaskaran, Chairman and founder of the Lyca Group said:

On behalf of the entire Lyca Group, I would like to give my sincere thanks and gratitude to the heroic efforts of NHS staff around the country. I would also like to extend my deepest sympathies to those that have been impacted by this pandemic, both directly and indirectly.

Connecting with friends and family is more important than ever during extraordinary times such as these. That is why we are offering our unlimited bundle to frontline NHS workers completely free of charge, so that they can stay in touch with their loved ones, without worrying about bills or running out of data. We’re also very pleased to have partnered with ROKiT to make affordable smartphones and insurance products available to the most vulnerable members of society during these difficult times.

Graeme Oxby, CEO of London based Community Fibre said:

Since the start of the COVID crisis in March Community Fibre has been working in partnership with London’s largest landlords to ensure as many Londoners as possible have access to 100% Full Fibre connectivity. Community Fibre is already meeting the measures outlined by the Government and we are working with our local authority partners to identify and connect their most vulnerable customers at this time. We’re very grateful for the messages of support and thanks our team have received from those that we have been able to help stay connected during this difficult time.

Steve Leighton, CEO of rural broadband provider Voneus said:

Many people in the rural communities we serve are facing unprecedented challenges – having a decent broadband connection has never been so important as it’s the only way they have to keep in touch with their friends and families, as well as with their work and schools. We’re committed to keeping our customers connected, even if they’re struggling to pay their bills, and we’re proud to see the telecoms industry take collective action to ensure the most vulnerable people can stay online,

Jonathon Burrows, CEO, ASK4 said:

In these unprecedented times we are pleased to offer direct support to all of our NHS customers – their work is of unparalleled importance and we are glad to do whatever we can to help.

John Irvine, CEO, WightFibre said:

WightFibre is delighted to provide our local NHS workers with complimentary speed upgrades, priority installations, upgrades and support, because we care. Our NHS workers on the island are outstanding, WightFibre is proud to give something back”.

Giles Phelps, Managing Director, Spectrum Internet said:

We always look to support all our customers with the best speeds and a quality service but at this time, we’re proud to add the extra focus on what we provide to the wonderful NHS staff members.

Matthew Hare, Chief Executive, Zzoomm plc said:

Staying connected in isolation is crucial, so Zzoomm has provided all of our customers a speed boost to 900Mbps upload and download free of charge across April, May and June. Our full fibre network allows our customers to work, learn and play, communicating with friends, family and colleagues while staying safe at home and looking forward to when we can Zzoomm out of lockdown.

Notes to editors:

  • On 10 April and 29 March the Government and the major telecoms providers announced commitments to support the NHS and vulnerable consumers respectively.
  • Several of the additional 11 providers have agreed to support these commitments following discussions supported by the Internet Service Providers Association.
  • Tesco Mobile: Tesco Mobile will support eligible frontline NHS pay monthly customers with 500GB data and 5000 minutes. Once applied to the customer’s account, extra connectivity will be available until 30 June 2020. More information on how to apply at tescomobile.com/nhs. Free unlimited off-peak minutes are currently available until 1 June 2020, when it will be reviewed. Detail on all our Little helps are at tescomobile.com/littlehelps/
  • giffgaff: For more information on goodybank you can visit: https://www.giffgaff.com/goodybank
  • iD Mobile: Using their NHS email address, our customers who are NHS workers will be able to subscribe to unlimited minutes, texts and data at no extra cost from June until the beginning of October via idmobile.co.uk. Similarly, to help our most vulnerable customers we’ve given all our customers over-70 free unlimited minutes until mid-June.
  • ASK4: The NHS worker should call the ASK4 support team and say that they want to make use of the offer. ASK4 will verify they do indeed work for the NHS, then apply the maximum package upgrade they can receive, which is dependent on the building they live in, and the infrastructure installed. Spectrum Internet: To gain access to any of these offers customers should contact support@spectruminternet.com.
  • WightFibre: On WightFibre’s full-fibre network on the Isle of Wight, NHS staff calling WightFibre will receive priority install of new broadband within 48 hours (if not already a customer), a 50% discount on all broadband subscriptions for 12 months together with a complimentary speed upgrade to one speed higher than the speed purchased. Where chosen this includes complimentary Whole Home WiFi guarantee and a home telephone line with included Anytime calls. NHS employees must call WightFibre on 01983 240240 and ask for the NHS Employee offer. The offer is not available for purchase online.
  • Lycamobile: Sim cards with a free month of unlimited international calls as well as unlimited UK minutes, texts and data, followed by a monthly 20% discount for NHS workers are available at stores around the country and can be activated here. Low-cost mobile phone bundles for vulnerable consumers with a 10-month sim bundle and three months of comprehensive insurance, covering your device, vehicle and personal injury, are available in partnership with ROKiT here, from just £3 per month.

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