Spark today announced that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic it will help its customers stay connected as they transition to new ways of working, learning and connecting, and accelerate its existing initiative to bridge the digital divide.
This will include the following measures, which will be introduced on Monday 23 March 2020 for an initial 60-day period, to ensure Spark customers are not disconnected:
- Removing overage charges for customers who are on data-capped broadband plans and are therefore at risk of losing access if they go over their existing data limits. This applies to both small and medium business and consumer customers;
- When a Spark customer is experiencing hardship because of COVID-19, for the next 60 days Spark will waive late fees and will not terminate service. If our customers are experiencing hardship, they should get in touch to discuss their individual circumstances and available options.
Spark will also continue its work to connect New Zealanders who are currently digitally excluded by:
- Relaunching its subsidised and not-for-profit broadband product Jump at a lower price and for a wider range of people who do not currently have access to broadband at home. Spark will actively monitor its network to manage traffic and ensure a good experience for all its customers as it makes these changes.
CEO Jolie Hodson said this is the right thing to do in these challenging times.
“We are facing an unprecedented situation as a country, as COVID-19 is challenging all New Zealanders to work, learn and connect in different ways. We recognise that our customers will be increasingly working from home, in self-isolation or social distancing, and making sure they have access to enough data will help them remain connected with family, friends and colleagues.
“We also recognise that a number of New Zealanders are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, so this is about taking some immediate action to alleviate undue stress.
“Prior to the onset of COVID-19 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.”
Jolie also noted the importance of industry working together on solutions to support New Zealand as the COVID-19 situation develops.
“At times like this we can do more as a collective than we can on our own. As we have done during past crisis situations and natural disasters, we will work with our industry colleagues to ensure we provide New Zealand with a resilient network and the connectivity it needs.
“Our industry body, The New Zealand Telecommunications Forum, has commenced a process of regular coordination meetings so that industry can work together and with Government to determine the most appropriate course of action to support New Zealand and to share resources and logistics where needed.”
Today’s announcement follows confirmation yesterday that Spark Sport would open its platform up to all New Zealanders for no charge until May 2020.