With self-isolation rules now firmly in place, most of us rely on our broadband to connect us with friends and family and to continue working from home during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic where we can — not to mention keeping the kids entertained with streaming and online gaming.
As a result, most of the UK’s major internet service providers (ISPs) have agreed to take new measures to help support their customers and the wider community as a whole during this time.
Commitments from most major providers
Openreach, BT, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, Hyperoptic and Gigaclear are just some of the providers that are involved, all of which have stated that they will remove all data allowance caps on all current fixed broadband services.
Providers have also stated that they are committed to working with customers who find it difficult to pay their bills as a result of COVID-19 and giving them the support they need.
This includes ensuring vulnerable customers and those that are self-isolating have access to fixed broadband and landlines, and providing alternative methods of communication where needed.
Each of the major providers are doing different things to help their customers during this difficult time.
Vodafone has recently launched a new broadband rescue package that will be open to all small business owners in the UK, including those already on a Vodafone contract. This rescue package will offer businesses free broadband with unlimited usage and free access to Microsoft 365 Business Standard’s full suite of flexible business tools for a whole six months.
Small businesses can take up the offer at anytime over the next three months.
Virgin Media is already serving its customers with some of the fastest broadband speeds in the country, but it’s also adding some extras to help parents and those working from home cope with the recent changes.
100Mbps speed boost
Virgin Media are offering a signficant speed increase to millions of its customers, boosting those on superfast speeds to over 100Mbps, and those already accessing those speeds all the way up to 200Mbps.
Free TV channels
With more people at home all day than ever, Virgin Media is offering millions of its TV customers additional channels at no extra cost. These include Discovery, Fox, Gold, Sky One, Sky Comedy, Sky Witness, Alibi, Nat Geo and Comedy Central Extra.
New movie releases on-demand
Virgin Movies are also bringing new releases Emma, The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Trolls World Tour to its on-demand service at a reduced price for Virgin Media customers.
Extending Talk Protected calling hours
Customers on Virgin Media's Talk Protected plan can now get free daytime calls to home phone numbers.
Virgin Media broadband installation
At time of writing, Virgin Media is still continuing to install its services to new customers, with additional precautions in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
There are also self-install Quickstart packs that don’t require an outside engineer to come to your home in order to get you set up with cable broadband.
Find out more in our guide to broadband installations during the coronavirus.
At the time of writing, Sky has paused all of its pay-TV and broadband & TV bundle deals, choosing to instead focus on broadband-only deals and as reliable a service as possible for its existing customers.
Sky has also made some of its paid services free of charge and is introducing new services to help keep customers entertained while stuck at home.
Sky Cinema releases
Since you probably won’t be able to go to the cinema for a while, Sky Cinema is making a range of movies available in your home via Sky Store on the same day as the global release.
The first film you can watch at home is the DreamWorks Animation Troll World Tour which was released on 6th April. Other films including Emma, The Invisible Man and The Hunt are also available now.
Pause your Sky sports subscription
With all major sporting events being put on hold, Sky Sports customers are able to pause their subscriptions without being charged or being held to any notice period.
Streaming platforms on Sky Q
Sky Q customers are able to add on additional streaming services that can be accessed directly through the Sky Q box. These include Netflix, Disney+ and YouTube Kids, however there will be an additional charge to access this content.
TalkTalk are implementing a UK-based dedicated customer support team for vulnerable customers. It will also pause inflationary increases in bills from April for out of contract customers while extending payment windows for struggling customers.
TalkTalk is offering a £5 voucher on TalkTalk TV, helping to keep customers entertained while at home.
Like all the major providers, BT has removed capped broadband usage for customers, allowing them to use unlimited data when staying at home.
BT is also removing its out-of-bundle charges for the most critical services, such as UK landline and mobile calls, for its vulnerable customers and placing a £5-per-month cap so customers can keep in touch without worrying about overspending.
Pausing BT Sport
With no live sports being aired, BT customers on a Flexible TV package are able to pause their BT Sport subscription whenever they choose.
Customers who are on another package would need to upgrade to a Flexible TV package in order to pause BT Sport, however they would get three months extra BT Sport for free when they do.
BT is also offering customers a bill credit worth the value of one month of BT Sport. You also have the option to donate this credit to the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.
Avoid using call centres
Many of the major broadband providers have limited capacity for the call centres, and are prioritising helping vulnerable customers and those without access to telephone and internet services. Please avoid using call centres as much as possible to help those customers who need it most.