Vodafone NZ and 2degrees have removed data caps on all residential, small and medium business plans until the end of June as it joins its peers in responding coronavirus-driven surge in working-from-home.

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Spark and Vocus (owner of Slingshot, Orcon and Flip) made the same move yesterday.

Of the five players who dominate most of the market, Trustpower was the only one not to move on unlimited data. A spokesman said the company was still assessing its options. He noted, "The vast majority of our customers are already on uncapped plans."

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Like the other players, Vodafone's unlimited data move applies to fixed-broadband, but the telco says it will proactively encourage onto its customers on to its new "endless data" mobile plans, which at the entry-level ($40) are only 1 cent more per month than a capped plan, and zero-rate any traffic to Government-guided education and health sites to support responses to Covid-19.

Vodafone NZ boss Jason Paris: more help measures on the way. Photo / Herald Digital Focus
Vodafone NZ boss Jason Paris: more help measures on the way. Photo / Herald Digital Focus

The telco says it has also added extra capacity to fixed, broadband and mobile networks to cope with the extra demand as more people work from home and we will actively monitor network performance.

Earlier this week, InternetNZ chief executive Jordan Carter said the Government and telcos should work together to ensure all homes had access to broadband as Covid-19 isolation measures kicked in, and the internet became an important tool for keeping people connected.

Currently, many households were missing out, Carter said.

The 2018 census found 211,000 homes without broadband.

Spark re-launched its Jump programme this week, offering heavily-subsidised fixed-wireless broadband for school children low-income families.

The scheme has been been used to provide internet to some 5000 homes since 2016.

Today, Vodafone said it would waive disconnection fees, and pledged not to disconnect any customer in financial hardship for at least six months. Spark announced similar moves yesterday.

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Vodafone NZ chief executive Jason Paris said the measures announced today were just the first phase of his company's "Covid-19 care" programme.

"These are unprecedented times. It's clear the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic is profound and long-lasting," Paris said.

His company was working with competitors, and the Government, on keeping networks running smoothly during the crisis.