Irish telecoms providers have agreed to engage with customers who are struggling to pay their bills to help keep people connected.
Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Richard Bruton, TD, announced that Ireland’s major telecoms providers have committed to a new set of Covid-19 measures.
Bruton said that all major telecoms firms have signed up, including BT Ireland, Eir, Pure Telecom, Sky Ireland, Three Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland and Vodafone, committing to help customers stay in touch and work from home during the crisis.
This includes providing flexibility on billing and data limits, with providers being asked by the Government to keep users connected to voice and data services in “the best way” possible.
The news comes as remote workers and school students around the country have reported difficulties engaging with their work due to poor connectivity in rural areas.
The Covid-19 consumer commitments
There are seven new measures that Ireland’s telecoms companies have agreed to implement:
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 from their service provider
Fair usage policies will not be automatically applied to unlimited fixed and mobile data packages over the duration of the crisis
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, meaning data consumed on these sites is free and does not count for billing purposes
Service providers will now have to engage with any customer that contacts them to say that they are in financial difficulty as a result of Covid-19, when it is causing difficulty to pay bills
Service providers will work with ComReg in the event of complaints being raised by consumers who consider they are not being treated in accordance with these commitments
‘Providing extra capacity’
Commenting on the new measures, Bruton said: “Now more than ever, people are relying on online services to stay in touch with family, friends and work colleagues.
“These commitments will make sure that all major providers are responding to this increased reliance, providing extra capacity where needed and ensuring people have the services they need to stay connected. These are common commitments and some operators may choose to offer extra services to their customers.”
According to Bruton, the commitments will be implemented by operators as soon as possible. Each service provider will give details and implementation updates on their own website. The commitments will remain available to consumers until 30 June 2020 and will be reviewed in advance of that date if needed.