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Coronavirus: UK broadband data caps removed during pandemic

by ace
Coronavirus: UK broadband data caps removed during pandemic

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Limited connections are being eliminated as part of a government-brokered deal

The UK's leading internet providers agreed to remove fixed-line broadband data limits during the coronavirus pandemic.

The measure is part of a series of new measures agreed between telecommunications companies and the government.

Other commitments include "fair and adequate" support for customers struggling to pay their bills.

Suppliers have also agreed to offer new "generous" packages for cell phones and landlines, the government said.

The companies that signed the commitments include:

  • BT, including its Openreach and EE divisions
  • Virgin Media
  • Sky
  • Talk Talk
  • O2
  • Vodafone
  • Three
  • Hyperoptic
  • Gigaclear
  • Kcom

The initiative complements the measures that individual companies had already announced.

Most fixed-line broadband packages have already been announced as having “unlimited” data, with the exception of reduced price packages for those with benefits.

It used to happen that many "unlimited" packages had data limits hidden in small print, known as "fair use policies". However, changes made to the UK advertising rules mean that references to "unlimited" can no longer involve these warnings.

Even so, some families with old contracts that were never updated could still have data limits in place, and exceeding those limits can be expensive.

The joint statement from companies, the government and regulator Ofcom said the new measures are aimed at supporting and protecting vulnerable customers, including the elderly.

The data limits remain in effect for mobile contracts.

Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden said it was "fantastic" to see the industry "coming together to do its part in the national effort".

The announcement was, however, mild in detail about some of the commitments.

It is not yet clear how fair treatment is for those who have difficulty paying the bills. And the new "generous" packages to be offered include things like "low price data increases" and free calls, the statement said – but they did not say how much they could cost.

Likewise, those awaiting repairs to their broadband should receive "alternative" methods of communication, the statement said, without specifying what that meant.

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