by Georgina Torbet, Yahoo! Finance, March 30, 2020
As people around the world shift to remote work and look to the internet for personal communication and entertainment, unlimited access is more important than ever. Now, the U.K. government has reached an agreement with telecommunications companies to lift all data allowance caps on broadband plans to ensure people can continue to use the internet during the pandemic involving coronavirus, officially called COVID-19.
Major British broadband providers including BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear, and KCOM have all agreed to lift their data caps. The providers have also agreed to consider further actions, such as working with customers who are struggling to pay their bills due to the coronavirus outbreak, offering new affordable packages for both mobile and landline-based internet for those who don’t yet have internet access at home, and providing alternative methods of communication for customers who experience problems with their internet access.
Similar policies have already been implemented in the U.S., where companies like AT&T have halted caps on broadband usage. American senators have also written an open letter urging more ISPs to follow suit and lift their bandwidth restrictions.
Regarding the lifting of data caps in Britain, Melanie Dawes, CEO of British telecom regulator Ofcom, said: “We recognize providers are dealing with unprecedented challenges at the moment. So we welcome them stepping up to protect vulnerable customers, at a time when keeping in touch with our friends and families has never been more important. We’ll continue to work with Government and industry to help make sure people stay connected.”
And Digital Secretary Oliver Dowden emphasized the importance of internet access at home to support social distancing measures while maintaining social connections: “It’s fantastic to see mobile and broadband providers pulling together to do their bit for the national effort by helping customers, particularly the most vulnerable, who may be struggling with bills at this difficult time. It is essential that people stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. This package helps people to stay connected whilst they stay home.”
Broadband caps will be lifted immediately, so if you’re in the U.K. and you have a contract with one of the mentioned providers then you should be able to use the internet without limitations for the foreseeable future.