To help the UK stay connected during the coronavirus pandemic, mobile networks have announced a number of changes to their policies to safeguard the most vulnerable and those self-isolating. Here's everything you need to know...
Like UK broadband providers, mobile networks are playing a vital role in keeping the UK connected – especially the most vulnerable - during the coronavirus outbreak.
In response, the UK's major networks are now offering free extra data in some cases, or low-cost add-ons. So there's less chance of running up a hefty bill at a time when we're all likely to be using our phones much more than usual.
Some networks are also making it easier to stay in touch by making all WiFi calls free, while others are offering 'vulnerable' customers free data, calls and texts.
So what's your network doing to help? Read on and we'll take a look...
How are mobile networks helping the most vulnerable?
Additionally, if you’re with either O2 or Vodafone, you’ll get access to a number of mental health resources, including Mind and Calm, without incurring any data costs. If you’re self-isolating alone and worried about incurring data charges, this should give you peace of mind.
Speaking about the decision by mobile networks to safeguard customers during this difficult time, health secretary Matt Hancock said:
“We have been clear this must be a national effort and so I’m delighted that mobile companies will be offering free data to browse nhs.uk.
"This will ensure everyone can access the guidance they need and avoid dangerous misinformation, without incurring data charges, and is an important contribution to the next stage of our plan to delay the spread of the virus.”
To help its customers stay connected, Sky is offering 10GB of extra data. Better still, if you're a household with multiple Sky Mobile SIMs you can use this extra data across all of your SIMs.
And Sky won't charge you extra data for watching its popular Sky Go app, either.
Similar to Sky, Virgin Media customers will also get 10GB of extra data, free of charge.
And Virgin Media customers with W-Fi compatible phones will be able to use the WiFi calling feature on their service, at no extra cost.
This means you'll be able to use your mobile to connect to the nearest Wi-Fi connection, and make calls, free of charge, even when there's no mobile signal. Your usage time for Wi-Fi calls will be deducted from your usual airtime allowance.
From 3 April, Tesco will give its 5.2 million mobile customers free evening and weekend calls, including customers on its business plans, too.
This means you can stay in touch with friends and family from 8pm – 8am on weekdays, and all across the weekend, free of charge.
For its pay monthly customers who are registered NHS staff, Vodafone is extending its 30-day free access to unlimited mobile data.
Additionally, if you’re a Vodafone customer, you’ll be bale to access www.nhs.uk and www.111.nhs.uk, plus a number of mental health resources, including Mind and Calm, without incurring data charges.
To keep the most vulnerable people in the UK safe during the coronavirus crisis, EE continues to offer its most vulnerable customers help and support.
And like most UK mobile providers, the network won’t charge its customers for visiting NHS online or seeking social distance advice from the Government.
To help during the coronavirus pandemic, O2 has upgraded its pay-monthly customers to unlimited calls to UK numbers. This change would have been applied automatically to your plan.
Unfortunately, this applies solely to customers with phone-and-contract plans and does not include those on SIM only plans.
Similar to the providers above, O2 customers can visit certain NHS websites without being charged for data - even if they've maxed out their allowance.
Will my broadband switch be affected?
If you’re in the process of switching your broadband, most switches will go ahead as planned during the coronavirus outbreak as, chances are, you won’t need an engineer to come to your house.
To find out more, check out our comprehensive guide.
**Last updated 08/04/2010