New Zealand’s telcos have temporarily removed data caps on broadband plans. Meanwhile they are either preparing or have started rejigging operations so more people can work from home.

Vodafone, 2degrees and Vocus, which includes the Slingshot, CallPlus, Orcon and Flip brands, have all removed data caps until at least the middle of the year.

Spark has, in effect, done the same thing by removing overage charges when customers exceed their data caps. The company has also waived late fees for customers experiencing hardship and promises not to terminate services.

Meanwhile Spark has relaunched its Jump service, a low-cost plan designed to connect low-income customers who do not yet have broadband. Spark CEO Jolie Hodson says “we were in the process of relaunching our subsidised and not-for-profit broadband product as Skinny Jump – which aims to bridge the digital divide for New Zealanders who don’t have access to broadband at home.

"Since we first launched Jump in 2016 we have connected close to 5,000 families with school-aged children to broadband.

"Skinny Jump will be even more affordable and open to a wider range of New Zealanders who experience digital exclusion, beyond those with young families.”

Telcos have also moved to zero rate traffic to government education and health sites with information on the Covid–19 outbreak.

Removed data caps apply to all residential and small business customers.

While the telcos expect to see increased data consumption, they say the networks are prepared for surging demand.

Meanwhile the telcos are moving to protect their staff from the Covid–19 virus. In many cases this means increasing the number of employees who work from home and planning for when every employee may need to stay away from offices and work places.

Chorus says its engineering teams are now contacting households before visiting to confirm no-one has been overseas or is otherwise in self-isolation. If they are, the appointments are being rescheduled.