Telecoms providers agree to ensure customers stay connected
Providers stop short of offering payment breaks amid Covid-19 crisis
Major providers such as Virgin Media Ireland, Sky Ireland, Vodafone, BT Ireland, Eir, Pure Telecom, Tesco Mobile Ireland and Three Ireland have agreed to the Government’s measures. Photograph: iStock
Major telecoms providers have committed to a Government-led initiative aimed a making sure consumers remain connected to essential online services. The providers stopped short of offering blanket payment breaks to consumers in financial difficulties, however.
Although the providers said they would “engage with any customer that contact them who is in financial difficulty” as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, they added that they would move to “agree the best way of keeping them connected to voice and data”.
And while they made no blanket commitment to payment breaks, the providers advised that consumers in financial difficulty contact them to work on a solution.
“Now more than ever, people are relying on online services to stay in touch with family, friends and work colleagues,” said the Minister for Communications, Richard Bruton.
“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.”
The providers came up with a list of seven commitments, including an allowance to upgrade to unlimited broadband usage on a temporary basis and affordable unlimited mobile data access. Service providers may also, under the measure, implement traffic-management measures to avoid network congestion.
A division of lobby group Ibec, Telecommunications Industry Ireland, said operators would implement the measures “as soon as practicable” and the commitments would remain active until June 30th. “At what is a critical period for Ireland and a very challenging time for many across the country, the telecommunications industry is working very hard to ensure that people remain connected,” said Torlach Denihan, director of Telecommunications Industry Ireland.
Although there were no specific measures for payment breaks outlined, Commission for Communications Regulation commissioner Robert Mourik said that “service providers may go beyond these common set of commitments and introduce additional measures for their customers”.