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Broadband, Phone & TV

How broadband, phone and TV providers are responding to Covid-19

How broadband, phone and TV providers are responding to Covid-19
Rob Flynn

Rob Flynn

Staff Writer

Telecommunications companies like Eir, Sky and Vodafone will experience higher usage and increased demand on services due to Covid-19 as more and more start to work from home. But thankfully they, and others, have plans in place for their customers.

If one thing is for sure during these uncertain times, it’s that customers certainly are spoiled for choice when it comes to home entertainment - from Netflix to Sky Cinema, there’s fun for the entire family, and all available at the touch of a button.

In light of the ongoing developments around Covid-19, broadband, home phone, and TV providers are making customers their number one priority and touching base to let us know what we can expect over the next while.

While most service providers have explained that disruption to internet, phone, or TV services will be highly unlikely, some have announced that customers will be able to enjoy enhanced services and at reduced prices.

We take a look at how some of the various providers have been responding over the last week and what's in store...

Sky

Sky is going above and beyond for its Irish customers, making sure they’re fully entertained over the coming days and weeks.

The company has announced that its priority, first and foremost, lies with its existing customers, ensuring they ‘continue to get the very best service.’

Sky Go Extra

So, customers of Sky will be glad to know that they will have access to Sky Go Extra for FREE. All customers have access to the Sky Go app, but with Extra you can access Sky TV on no less than three screens at any one time.

Sky Go Extra, which would usually cost €6 extra a month, allows you to download movies and shows to watch offline, as well as watch on two mobile devices or tablets at the same time as your TV.

New channels

Sky is also set to launch three brand new channels this Spring - Sky History, Sky Nature and Sky Documentaries – which will be sure to help educate the entire family, as well as entertain.

Disney+

If that were not enough content to keep you content, in line with Disney+ launching here in Ireland on March 24th, Sky will be bringing the streaming platform directly to you and yours through integration with its Sky Q box - and all for only €6.99 extra a month.

With so many great movies and TV shows to choose from, Sky subscribers really are spoilt for choice!

Anytime landline calls

Sky has also announced that calls to Irish landlines at any time of the day will be free for existing Sky Talk customers until the end of April.

The measures will be welcomed with open arms by those self-isolating or choosing to engage in social distancing, enabling them to keep in touch with their loved ones at any time.

And to ensure none of its broadband or phone customers become disconnected at any point, Sky has made reassurances that its network can handle “high traffic peaks at all times of the day and night” all the while making sure ongoing testing, monitoring and improvements are being made, 24/7.

Sky Sports

With so much live sporting action cancelled you could be wondering what's the point in having a Sky Sports subscription right now. Thankfully Sky has recognised this and has said that if customers want to pause their Sky Sports subscription for a while they will not be charged a fee or held to any notice period. 

Read the full Covid-19 announcement here.

Virgin Media

In the midst of the Covid-19 chaos, another provider doing well to ensure its customers keep abreast of the situation, as well as keeping connected is Virgin Media.

Installations and network

Virgin is putting the safety of both its technicians and its customers first when installing or servicing connections.

Customers will be contacted three-days prior to a visit from a Virgin Media technician and if someone from the household is experiencing flu-like symptoms the visit will be rescheduled for two weeks later.

Alternatively, if a customer is self-isolating, Virgin will see if it’s possible to send out a self-install QuickStart pack free of charge, thus eliminating the need for a technician’s visit. And you'll be glad to know from experience that these are really simple and easy to set up.

Virgin Media has also reassured customers it is doing all it can to maintain the integrity and quality of its network, what with the increase in demand with people working from home.

Customers can rest assured that the network can withstand any increased usage, which includes peaks throughout the day, in the evenings and at weekends, and Virgin tech are on hand should anything need to change.

Payment

Virgin has also outlined that it is happy to help customers who may find it difficult to pay their Virgin Media bill during this time.

You can contact Virgin customer support if you are affected or would like to discuss your bill.

Find out more from Virgin here.

Vodafone

As part of its response in helping to tackle Covid-19, Vodafone Group has announced a strategic five-point plan which will help secure its fast and responsive service.

The five-point plan is as follows:

  1. Maintaining the quality of service of networks
  2. Providing network capacity and services for critical government functions
  3. Improving dissemination of information to the public
  4. Facilitating working from home and helping the small and micro businesses within our Supply Chain
  5. Improving governments’ insights into people’s movements in affected areas

Vodafone said the measures introduced will stay in effect until September 1st and “and can be extended beyond this date, should it be necessary in individual markets.”

However, Vodafone Ireland CEO, Anne O'Leary announced the plans for its 2.3 million mobile and broadband customers here in Ireland.

Vodafone customers

Vodafone has ensured its mobile and broadband connectivity is robust, and as part of its Covid-19 response has added extra capacity to its fixed, broadband and mobile networks to cope with the extra demand as more people work from home.

Technical assistance is being provided to customers through additional care teams, while digital tools like the Vodafone Ireland website and My Vodafone app remain in place to help customers seeking information online.

Vodafone's retail stores remain open with "strict social distancing and health and safety practices being enforced."

Impressively, Vodafone has established expert teams to provide additional fixed and mobile network capacity and other services to critical infrastructure such as the HSE and other key organisations involved in halting the spread of the virus.

Additionally, from this week customers will be able to access the HSE website for free without it affecting their data allowances, as well as all gov.ie websites - enabling access to important health information.

Network access

Another important component of Vodafone’s plan for Irish customers is the improving and updating of its network across Ireland to further enable remote working, which is fully equipped to deal with such demand. 

The Vodafone Group said it has seen data traffic increase by up to 50% in some markets since the outbreak, with the Irish market sure to see a surge also.

Vodafone’s tech teams throughout Europe have been making sure its network capacity is resilient enough to absorb ‘any new usage patterns arising as more people work from home.’ The Irish team are in constant contact with its global coordination team, constantly sharing best practices so customers need not be worried about losing connectivity.

Prioritising people

The health and safety of Vodafone's workers is central to everything it does and it says it is encouraging everyone who can work from home to do just that, as well as organising flexible arrangements for its retail employees.

All Vodafone employees also have full access to employee well-being services during this time.

You can find out the full details here.

Eir

Eir announced it has planned to remove the data limit on at least one of its mobile phone packages due to the spread of the coronavirus.

The network provider's Business Performance package is set to move from 20GB to unlimited data, but it has not yet announced any plans to reduce prices for other customers.

However Eir did announce it would be delaying the planned charge for its email service which was due to come into effect from March 31st.

Three

In a move that will be welcomed by customers, Three Ireland has removed its fair use limit, previously 60GB, from all of its 'all you can eat' mobile phone plans.

Three also announced that all calls from its network to the HSE helpline will not be charged during the pandemic. So that means anyone self-isolating can remain safe while staying informed.

Additionally, with Three removing its fair usage cap customers will now be able to use their phone as a WiFi hotspot for internet connectivity for other devices.

And while Three's terms and conditions do not permit Irish customers to use their mobile device in this way, due to the current situation the company has motioned not to enforce this rule for the time being.

So if your broadband is lack-lustre but your mobile signal is top-notch why not make the best of a bad situation!

Digiweb

Last but not least, communications operator Digiweb also stepped out to inform its customers of the ongoing developments around Covid-19 and how it was being equipped to manage the pandemic.

Digiweb, based in Dundalk and founded in 1997, provides nationwide broadband access and telephone services to residential and business customers in every county of Ireland.

Support services

  • Digiweb's services are fully operational and its customer service facilities are operating to regular working hours

  • Its telephone lines may experience some delays due to the increase in people working from home

  • Customers can also contact Digiweb via its webchat and are encouraged to check social media for updates
  • In the interest of customer and technician safety, customers will be reminded one day before a technician's visit in case a member of the household may have fallen ill or is showing symptoms

Network

    • Digiweb's nationwide network is fully scaled and ready to cope with any increased bandwidth requirements

    • It 24-hour Network Operations centre remains fully staffed

    • For those requiring a package upgrade to ensure they can work from home, Digiweb has assured that in most cases upgrades can be performed within one hour

    Digiweb customers can read more here.

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