Retail telcos Vodafone, Spark, Vocus and 2degrees have come to the aid of people working from home amid the virus scare by wiping data limits on all fixed-broadband plans, at no extra cost, as well as offering unlimited data to all small and medium businesses who remain in situ.
Should wholesaler Chorus, which operates most copper lines and most of the UFB fibre network, also come to the party?
"Maybe a player like Chorus, which underpins the whole network, actually said we're going to give the ISPs a bit of a discount on the wholesale charges that we offer as well so they can pass on discounts for a temporary period to their customers," tech commentator Peter Griffin told RNZ yesterday.
"Particularly that copper line network when we still have hundreds of thousands of customers who aren't on fibre, why not give them a data broadband holiday for a while?"
Griffin's comments struck home with a manager at one of the retail telcos, who told the Herald, "All the big ISPs have come out with ways we're going to support residential and business customers - and these initiatives have a relatively significant cost impact on our businesses.
"But so far I haven't seen anything from Chorus," they said.
"The wholesale fibre cost is almost 50 per cent of our most popular broadband plan.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
"Some help to cover some of the extra costs that we and other ISPs are taking on right now to remove data caps would be appreciated. It would be good for the full industry to be involved in keeping Kiwis connected."
"From our perspective, the easiest thing to pass on – that is, ISPs wouldn't have to do anything – would be a postponement of scheduled Chorus price rises.
"Price rises right now just don't seem right."
But would cuts in Chorus' wholesale pricing be passed on - and passed on in full? The manager, who requested anonymity but works for one of the big three retail telcos, said: "There would still be a small portion of the discount that would be a real cost of delivery to the consumer – so passing on 100 per cent might depend on a few variables."
Communications Minister Kris Faafoi did not provide immediate comment, but his office said he is likely to speak to the issue later today.