Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started impacting South Africa and its citizens, we’ve seen a number of local tech and telecoms companies do their parts to assist those working remotely. Now a recent agreement to between the the UK government and telecoms service providers in that part of the world has us beat.

This as a number of firms have agreed to raise the data caps for its customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with a few other commitments in order to help those for whom connectivity at this time is an issue.

The firms in the UK who have agreed at this stage are BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, and KCOM. Those are some fairly high-profile organisations and, as such, a vast majority of the UK population living in cities will benefit as a result.

In terms of the commitments that they have agreed to, the UK government has outlined the following:

  • “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.”

At the time of writing, no timeframe has been given as to when the commitments will be carried out, but it is at least pleasing to see large firms do the right thing.

Locally we are yet to hear of such an industry-wide plan, but if government were working on it, it would be most welcome. Some networks have made plans to beef up the capacity of their infrastructure, while other ISPs have been urged to increase the speed of the their lines, so some steps are being taken.

That said, more needs to be done for those who are struggling to stay connected locally, as well as those impacted by increasing data costs related to working remotely.

[Image – Photo by James Giddins on Unsplash]