30 April 2020
By Mary Bermingham
Cork Fine Gael Senator Tim Lombard has confirmed that all major telecoms providers have committed to several measures to help people stay in touch and work from home during Covid-19.
Senator Lombard stated that
“at this time more people are relying on online services to stay connected with family, friends and work colleagues. All major providers have signed up – including BT Ireland, eir, Pure Telecom, Sky Ireland, Tesco Mobile Ireland, Three Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland and Vodafone – for the following Covid-19 Consumer Commitments”
Any fixed broadband customers who do not have unlimited usage already as standard will be given the opportunity, if they require, to upgrade their package (which may be on a temporary basis), with their current service provider
Any customer who does not have fixed broadband and who relies solely on mobile access to the Internet will have the opportunity to avail of affordable unlimited mobile data access/package from their service provider. Fair usage policies will not be automatically applied to unlimited fixed and mobile data packages. Service providers may implement appropriate permitted traffic management measures to avoid network congestion. Access to healthcare and educational resource websites identified by the Government will be zero-rated for all customers where technically feasible (although it is not clear how this will work, especially if a customer is using a VPN which means the destination website cannot be identified by the Irish ISP).
So that customers can remain connected during the crisis, service providers will engage with any customer that contacts them who is in financial difficulty as a result of Covid-19 and has difficulty paying their bills to agree the best way of keeping them connected to voice and data.
Service Providers will work with ComReg in the event of complaints raised to ComReg by consumers, who consider they are not being treated in accordance with these commitments.
“These commitments ensure that all major providers are responding to the increased reliance of online access, providing extra capacity where needed, and ensuring people have the services they need to stay connected.
“Each service provider will provide details and implementation updates on their own website, and some operators may choose to offer extra services to their customers. The commitments will remain available to consumers until 30 June 2020.”
Customers experiencing issues should contact their service provider in the first instance, before contacting ComReg’s Consumer Care Team at firstname.lastname@example.org 01 8049668 (from 8.00am to 8.00pm Monday to Friday and 9.00am to 1.00pm on Saturday, excluding public holidays.
Data consumed in accessing a zero-rated website is completely free and so does not count for billing purposes or in the calculation of data usage with reference to a consumer’s data allowance.