Coronavirus: Telecoms providers to lift broadband data caps and protect vulnerable

Ombudsman Services

The UK’s major telecoms providers have agreed a set of important commitments to support and protect vulnerable consumers and those who may become vulnerable due to circumstances arising from Covid-19, the government has announced.

BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, and KCOM have all agreed the following measures, effective immediately:

• 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.

Ed Dodman, director of regulatory affairs at Ombudsman Services, which handles unresolved disputes between consumers and communications providers, welcomed the announcement.

He said: “It’s good to see policymakers and providers working together to protect consumers during this unprecedented crisis.

“We know from the vulnerability workshops that we hold for providers that there is a real desire across large parts of the telecoms sector to do the right thing by vulnerable consumers. This agreement is a good example of putting that desire into action.

“As an ombudsman we are working hard to ensure that we continue to provide consumers with access to independent redress throughout the coronavirus epidemic.”