Worried about not being able to pay your bill at the end of the month? Looking for ways to keep the family entertained during self-isolation? Here’s how the UK’s major providers can help…
Whether you’re working from home, worried about staying in touch with loved ones or simply keeping the kids amused, a sturdy internet connection and reliable phone is vital during these uncertain times.
That’s why the Government and UK telecom providers are working to help the most vulnerable people during the coronavirus outbreak, and keep the whole of the UK, connected.
Here’s everything you need to know…
How have providers agreed to help?
As outlined by the Government, all of the UK’s telecom providers have agreed strict terms to safeguard consumers during this difficult time, especially the most vulnerable.
To that end, BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear and KCOM have removed fixed-line broadband data caps, in an effort to keep those self-isolating connected during the coronavirus outbreak.
Also, those struggling to pay their bill will be treated fairly and appropriately supported by the UK’s telecom companies. That’s according to the Department for Digital Culture, Media and Sport.
So if you have payment issues, you should contact your provider immediately. It is duty-bound to treat you fairly.
Moreover, if your broadband or phone goes down and you are vulnerable or self-isolating, your provider should give you alternative ways of communication. These might include substantial new mobile and landline packages, such as low-cost data boosts and free calls from landlines and mobiles.
Here’s more on what each provider is doing to help…
At the time of writing, Sky customers can enjoy it's popular app - Sky Go Extra - free of charge. This means those in large households will be able to access Sky TV on three screens simultaneously, including the main TV in the house, without incurring any costs.
Better still, Sky won’t charge for data if you watch Sky Go on your mobile, either.
There’s good news for movies buffs, too. Right now, Sky customers can access a variety of new movies via Sky Store, including those released on the same day as global premiers.
New Sky Store releases include: Emma, The Invisible Man and The Hunt. All of which hit theaters only recently.
Sky says due to the cancellation of most sporting events across the country, it's allowing its customers to pause their Sky Sports subscriptions for no charge.
And while your subscription is paused, you’ll still be able to watch Sky Sports channels. The schedule will largely made up of classic matches and sports documentaries.
Extra channels and streaming platforms
To keep the kids entertained, Sky has added Disney Plus and YouTube kids to its Sky Q platform. Bear in mind, though, they will come with an additional charge.
Elsewhere, Sky will add three new factual channels to its TV packages this Spring: Sky History, Sky Nature and Sky Documentaries. Which should help with home schooling.
For landline-only customers, BT has capped calling charges to UK landlines and mobiles to £5 per month – excluding calls to international or premium numbers.
Additionally, customers visiting NHS online will not incur any data charges, even if they have already maxed-out their allowance.
In terms of entertainment, BT’s flexible TV packages are a decent way to chop-and change your TV package during self-isolation, letting you pay for the channels you actually watch.
To off-set the lack of sports over the next few months, BT is offering a months’ worth of BT Sport subscription, free of charge.
To claim your free month, simply visit BT’s website. From there, you’ll be able to claim your credit, which will be removed from your next month’s bill.
Alternatively, BT will let you donate the cost of one month’s BT Sports subscription to the Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal, a charity run by the NHS.
BT will also give you the option to pay £10 per month for its Entertainment package with three month's worth of BT Sport. However, this comes with a 24-month contract. And if you want to cancel, early termination fees will apply.
As of the 23 March, Virgin Media pay-monthly customers will get unlimited minutes to landlines and mobile numbers, free of charge, plus a 10GB data-boost at no extra cost, for a month.
And due to the closure of cinemas, Virgin Media has secured the newest new films to watch on Virgin Movies at a reduced rate for its subscribers. Its latest additions include Emma, The Hunt, The Invisible Man and Trolls World Tour.
Plus, from 6 April to 2 May, customers will get eighteen of its most popular TV channels, at no extra cost. These include Comedy Central, Fox, Discovery and MTV.
For the kids, Virgin Media is gifting its customers with free access to some of its most popular children's TV channels, including Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, until 21 April.
With more people working from home right now, TalkTalk says it will continue to monitor its network to ensure everything runs smoothly, even during times of increased demand.
Like Sky and Virgin Media, TalkTalk will also be bringing the latest movies releases straight to TalkTalk TV, along with a £5 off voucher for first-time visitors.
It’s also worth mentioning that all TalkTalk TV Boosts are very flexible, and available on a monthly basis. This means you can add and remove channels, as and when you want.
As a good will gesture, Plusnet won’t charge BT Sport customers for the service on their next bill. To claim your credit, you’ll need to fill out a form - which takes a few seconds online.
You’ll need your Plusnet username, which you’ll find on emails from the provider. After that, Plusnet the request should take up to 48 hours to process.
Lastly, we’ll keep the page updated as and when providers issue any more information. In the meantime, hit the button below to find out how your switch might by impacted:
**Last updated 06/04/2020