With the prospect of having to remain at home for the next three weeks the internet is about to become a necessity in South African households.

Whether it be working from home or remote learning, data and internet access are going to become more important than ever.

In light of this, the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) has asked internet service providers to make special provisions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The association has asked ISPs to take steps to support users who will be learning from home. This includes zero-rating educational traffic, temporarily increasing bandwidth caps for customers.

“Internet Service Providers (ISPs) play an important role in keeping South Africans connected, especially during a time of crisis. Given the ongoing disruptions to schools and universities, all ISPs should zero-rate traffic to national educational learning resources, including learning management systems, institutional repositories, library services and student support systems,” wrote ISPA in a statement sent to Hypertext.

The association says it is working with TENET South Africa to develop practical advise for ISPs looking to identify educational resources online.

“ISPA welcomes the steps already taken by fixed line and mobile operators, and asks that they also consider zero-rating educational content over their wholesale networks, so that this benefit can be passed on to all retail customers,” the association added

Of course, not every ISP is able to zero-rate traffic whether it be educational or otherwise. In this regard, ISPA asks ISPs to do their best to give customers some sort of additional value. This can be a bandwidth increase or a limited “lifeline” access service for those struggling financially.

Of course, zero-rating does not mean, abuse the good nature of ISPs trying to help you out.

“Zero-rating educational sites is not an exact process, and may be open to abuse by users with technical knowledge. ISPA calls on consumers to please not abuse special offers made by ISPs. During the global crisis, we all need to work together to make sure everybody in South Africa can stay connected,” the association has said.

Last week Vuma announced it would increase line speeds for customers from 1st April. We’ve also seen Telkom, MTN and Vodacom announce zero-rating of certain essential online services.

Here’s hoping the other ISPs in South Africa follow suit in these trying times.