The UK’s main internet providers have agreed to remove data caps on fixed-line broadband during the coronavirus pandemic.
The move is part of a range of new measures agreed between telecoms companies and the government. Other commitments include “fairly and appropriately” supporting customers who have trouble paying their bills. Providers have also agreed to offer “generous” new mobile and landline packages, the government said.
Those companies who have signed up to the commitments include:
- BT, including its Openreach and EE divisions
- Virgin Media
The initiative supplements measures the individual companies had already announced themselves.
Most fixed-line broadband packages were already advertised as having “unlimited” data, with the exception of cut-price packages for those on benefits.
It used to be the case that many “unlimited” packages had hidden data caps in their small print, known as “fair usage policies”. However, changes made to the UK's advertising rules mean that references to “unlimited” can no longer involve such caveats. Even so, some households still on older contracts which were never updated could still have had data caps in place, and going over those limits can be expensive. The joint statement from the companies, government, and the regulator Ofcom said the new measures were aimed at supporting and protecting vulnerable customers, including older people. Data caps remain in place on mobile contracts.
And Kcom - which provides some low-cost packages to those on government benefits - said its data caps would remain in place for gaming, streaming and the downloading of media. Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said it was “fantastic” to see the industry “pulling together to do their bit for the national effort”. The announcement was, however, light on detail on some of the commitments.
It is not yet clear what fair treatment for those with difficulty paying bills looks like. And the “generous” new packages to be offered include things like “data boosts at low prices” and free calls, the statement said - but did not say what they could cost. Similarly, those who are waiting on repairs to their broadband should be given “alternative” methods of communication, the statement said, without specifying what that meant.
Source: BBC News