Operators are ramping up offers that are intended to help their customers get through the current coronavirus pandemic. We know that the networks are overloaded through increased data but this industry is actually managing quite well with this. One other thing we need to see is whether services are financially possible for those people that require them the most.
It is important to try to bridge the digital divide now, more than ever, as huge numbers of people in so-called ‘advanced’ countries can’t afford the right devices, gadgets, access to broadband and mobile broadband that is necessary for them to order necessary food items online. Having broadband in your home this year, could be the difference between surviving the storm of the pandemic, or not.
When the time comes that we emerge from this outbreak, it will be interesting to see if closing the digital divide becomes more of a priority – if in case we are faced with another outbreak in the future. Will this be at the top of countries’ ‘to-do lists?’
Putting customers first
Networks are now advertising tariff breaks and are attempting to get close to their customers. Vodafone has declared measures that are created to provide assistance in the crisis. Their customers now have access to all NHS UK websites at no cost, and it will not affect their data allowances. They also have an Emergency Homeworker Tariff which is designed to help business customers get their employees working from home without problems, and costs only £15 per month. Suppliers for small business will be paid every 15 days – rather than the standard one month.
Global telecoms company EE (Everything Everywhere) is also applying the same ‘no charges to access NHS UK’ sites and all calls to the 111 will continue to be free of charge. Aside from this however, EE simply promises the continued flow of information.
There is certainly more that can be done and what is very obvious is the lack of innovation in terms of services being offered. When thinking of the grocery problem, could it be possible to link supermarkets, freelance delivery operators/uber drivers and vulnerable mobile subscribers, in a way that would benefit them the most?
In comparison to the efforts of both Vodafone and EE, American operator AT&T, is suspending the termination of wireless, home phone or broadband service when customers can’t pay their bills because of the pandemic. The company is also waiving related late fees. Like their rival Comcast, AT&T is providing free access to its public WiFi hot spots. In addition to this, the company said its consumer home internet wireline customers and fixed wireless internet customers would receive unlimited data.
App to help those in need of a home
A new application call ‘My Social Housing’ that’s aim is to mitigate homelessness, assist those who are searching for social housing, and decrease the number of homes that are currently sitting unoccupied.
The application was originally created by parent company Bridge Housing Solutions. It functions from a system that is designed to search over 1500 websites to try to identify affordable, safe, and well-maintained housing solutions, which could be used to rehome those who require it, and also help local community services to move people into homes from temporary accommodation. The application indicates that the current social housing situation in the United Kingdom is highly inefficient and also states that it is very hard to find any suitable housing options as seekers are continuously blasted with multiple adverts when using online portals