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Consumer Skills

matthew
23rd October 2020

Coronavirus: Telecoms

Information about the impact of COVID-19 (coronavirus) to telecom services in Northern Ireland, including digital TV services, such as Sky.

The information on this page was last updated on 23 October 2020.

Although The Consumer Council currently has no direct statutory role in relation to Broadband, Telecoms, Mobile, and Pay-per-view TV services, we are keen to see where we can help consumers, who are experiencing problems at this difficult time.

Please contact us on 0800 121 6022, through our website or by emailing contact@consumercouncil.org.uk.

New commitments from Telecoms providers for consumers during COVID-19

  • All providers have committed to working 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.
  • All providers will remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services.
  • All providers have agreed to offer some new, generous mobile and landline packages to ensure people are connected and the most vulnerable continue to be supported. For example, some of these packages include data boosts at low prices and free calls from their landline or mobile.
  • All providers will ensure 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.

Staying connected during the coronavirus

As broadband and mobile networks are under increased demand because of the coronavirus, Ofcom has published seven tips to help you stay connected, which is especially important for everyone who is working from home over the coming weeks.

Click here to view all seven helpful tips.

Broadband and telecom providers

Many broadband and telecoms providers have said they can cope with increase in demand as many more people stay at home.

If you would you would like to raise an issue with a telecoms provider, you must contact your provider in the first instance.

Guidance on making a complaint is provided by Ofcom or alternatively contact The Consumer Council who can give you advice on this complaint process:

BT

BT stores are closed until further notice. BT has taken the following steps:

  • Broadband: BT has removed all caps on all broadband packages so every customer has unlimited data during this time.
  • Telephone: For BT landline-only customers, a cap will be applied on call charges to all UK landlines and mobiles to £5 a month, so they can make the calls they need to without worrying about their bill. (This doesn’t include international calls and premium calls).
  • Mobile: BT customers who are a current NHS staff member are entitled to unlimited data. The offer is until further notice due to the ongoing coronavirus issue. To learn more or to apply click here.

BT has made all visits to the NHS online free, so you won’t use any data while accessing information. All calls to NHS 111 are already free.

BT engineers are now back working inside of homes and are taking extra precautions.

More information is available here.

EE

EE is giving NHS workers on an EE pay monthly mobile plan unlimited data until January 2021. More details are available here.

giffgaff

  • Mobile: giffgaff continues to operate as usual. giffgaff agent teams will remain available for anyone who needs support keeping their phone working.
  • Giffgaff are offering support data packages for frontline NHS workers. Click here for more information.

More information is available here.

O2

  • O2 has increased its capacity even further, to help handle the extra demand and have committed to continue to do this.

Some O2 stores are now open, to check if your local store is open visit here.

More information is available here.

Plusnet

Plusnet has changed its contact centre opening hours to 8am – 8pm.

  • Broadband: Plusnet has removed all caps on home broadband plans so every customers has unlimited data.   

Plusnet has also asked (residential or small business) customers struggling to pay bills to get in touch with them on and they will try to make things easier to manage.

More information is available here.

Sky

Sky services are running as normal.

  • Broadband: Sky is testing and monitored its network daily to maintain customer access.
  • Mobile: Sky is adding a 10GB data boost to its customers free of charge. This can be shared across all the SIMs on your account.

More information is available here.

Talk Talk

  • Broadband: Talk Talk’s call waiting times are longer than usual.  Talk Talk recommends that in the first instance customers should use its 24/7 online service centre to check that all is running as it should be. Customers can also contact Talk Talk through its online webchat.
  • Talk Talk is prioritising its phone lines for customers who have already registered as needing additional accessibility support 7 days a week from 10am to 7pmwith a dedicated UK team supporting between 9am and 12pm Monday to Friday.

More information is available here.

Three

  • Mobile: Some Three stores are now open, to check if your local store is open click here. Alternative ways to contact Three include: Three app, Three Store Now and Three Live.
  • Pay Monthly International Saver Add-on: Three has reduced the price of its Pay Monthly international Add-on to £10 a month.

Three is providing its customers with free data to access NHS websites. All calls to NHS 111 are already free.

More information is available here.

Tesco Mobile

  • Mobile: Tesco mobile customers can access NHS websites without using their data allowance. Tesco mobile have also introduced unlimited free evening and weekend calls which will not increase the tariff price for the whole length of your contract. To find out more visit: tescomobile.com/littlehelps.
  • If customers are worried about paying their bill, Tesco mobile advises customers to get in touch with them.
  • Tesco will be offering free data and minutes to frontline NHS pay monthly customers in the coming weeks. To learn more visit: tescomobile.com/nhs 
  • Tesco mobile phone shops have reopened and have put in place social distancing measures.

More information is available here.

Virgin

  • Broadband: Virgin’s technicians and support teams are monitoring its network performance to make sure it can respond to extra traffic.
  • Mobile: From 23 March 2020, Virgin is giving over 2.7 million Pay Monthly customers’ unlimited minutes to landlines and other mobile numbers, plus a 10GB data boost, at no extra cost, for a month. It is also keeping an eye on the situation and how it can continue to support people, so and will provide further updates if it plans to extend these extras.

The organisation is also looking at ways to help customers pay their bill during this time.

Virgin has made all visits to the NHS online free, so you won’t use any data while accessing information.

More information is available here.

Vodafone

  • Some Vodafone stores are now open, to check if your local store is open visit here.
  • Mobile: Vodafone has enabled mobile customers, whatever their payment plan, to access certain NHS websites – like www.nhs.uk and www.111.nhs.uk – without using any of their data allowance. It has also added extra capacity to its broadband and mobile networks to put them in the best possible position to cope with any extra demand as more people work from home. 

More information is available here.

Sky Sports and BT Sport

Sky has announced that customers Sky Sports packages have resumed. Click here for further information.

Virgin has announced that if you have paused Sky Sports, BT Sports or both, that credit has been applied to your bills to cover the usual costs for the Sky Sports or BT Sports package per month. Click here for details.