BT says it has removed all caps on home broadband plans, in order to provide customers with unlimited data as companies increasingly turn to home working and schools close in the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
BT Consumer CEO Marc Allera said the telecoms giant was removing all caps on home broadband plans so that every customer has unlimited data to use “whether working from home, keeping the kids connected to school or streaming the latest films”.
Earlier this week mobile network operators Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three said they would give their customers free online access to the latest NHS health information about coronavirus on websites including nhs.uk, 111.nhs.uk, wales.nhs.uk, nhsinform.scot, nidirect.gov.uk, and publichealth.hscni.net.
Allera said that working from home won’t generate significantly more traffic across our network than working in the office — even with more video calling and conferencing, HD streaming and now potentially more digital home schooling. So far, engineers in BT’s network have seen mobile calls go up, but data usage go down, he said.
Earlier this month ISPA-UK, which represents internet services providers (ISPs), said that its members’ networks are built to support ‘evening peak’ capacity, which generally means at least ten times the typical working-hours demand, driven by streaming video and other content. ISPA-UK said the types of applications that people use heavily in the evenings at home — like Facebook, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Sky Go — use more bandwidth than typical working tools like emails, document collaboration software or even voice and video conferencing.
Other operators are also changing their offerings in the light of the virus outbreak: from 23 March, Virgin Media is giving 2.7 million pay monthly customers unlimited minutes to landlines and other mobile numbers, plus a 10GB data boost, at no extra cost, for a month.
Earlier this week Vodafone said it had added extra capacity to the core fixed, broadband and mobile networks to cope with the extra demand as more people work from home. This minimises congestion at particularly busy aggregation points. But CEO Nick Jeffery said the network can cope well with big spikes in data usage after the live streaming of football over the Christmas period generated record levels of internet traffic.
Three said that all non-essential works have been put on hold to protect the stability of its network, and has increased capacity on the network in order to address increased data usage.