Spark and 2degrees are both wiping data caps from Monday.

For both, the measure applies until Auckland moves out of level 3, and applies to both residential and small business customers.

Those at risk of losing their broadband connection through financial hardship can apply for relief through Spark's website.

2degrees says it has not charged late payment fees since March and will not do so until at least the end of September.

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A spokeswoman for Spark said the decision to charges for busting a data cap was triggered by events in Auckland, but applies nationwide.

For Vocus (owner of Orcon and Slingshot), consumer GM Taryn Hamilton said, "Our customers on data cap plans have continued to have unlimited data since the first lockdown, likewise we still have a Covid financial hardship process and continue to support the Ministry of Eductation.

"Some customers that signed up since we returned to level 1 did have caps, but we have removed these nationwide, at least until the end of the year."

A spokeswoman for Vodafone said, "We have been helping New Zealanders stay connected throughout Covid-19. Keeping customers connected is always our key priority and will continue to be throughout this new heightened alert period.

"We have established Covid-19 measures in place and we are always looking at additional ways to help customers – but if anyone is reaching their data limits or is in financial hardship, they should get in touch with us in the first instance so we can work through the best option with them."

Vodafone has recently had major upgrades to its mobile and fixed-line networks, in part to accommodate the pandemic boom in traffic.

That was then

Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees all wiped data caps on fixed-broadband nationwide as a relief measure as traffic spiked sharply during the first lockdown.

Spark says when it lifted broadband data caps in March, provided customers across the country with over 7200 terabytes of free data over 100 days.

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As overall broadband use spiked to record levels, Netflix cut its bit rate (the amount of bandwidth it uses, underpinning picture quality) by 25 per cent - a move only recently reversed.

So far during Lockdown 2.0, the retail telcos and network provider Chorus have reported increases in traffic, but nothing close to the Lockdown 1.0 frenzy.

Spark CEO Jolie Hodson said this morning: "We know our customers need to stay connected during lockdown and we will lean in and do our part to make that happen as Auckland moves into an additional 12 days at Alert Level 3."

Spark customers are reminded that while network traffic will be monitored to ensure fair use and an optimal experience for all customers, there may be congestion during peak periods. Spark is currently speaking to large online content providers to encourage a return to the bitrate capping policies that were put in place during New Zealand's first lockdown, which helped internet service providers manage peak network loads by reducing the resolution of streamed content.

For customers experiencing financial hardship as a result of Covid-19, Spark introduced a new Hardship Policy in July that provides several options to help them stay connected wherever possible. Depending on the customer's circumstances, these can include restricting services to avoid extra charges, implementing a short-term payment extension, or applying to put an Extended Credit Arrangement in place over a longer period to keep monthly payments lower and more manageable.

Spark also continues to roll out its not-for-profit broadband service, Skinny Jump, at pace, connecting an additional 4,500 homes since the first Covid-19 lockdown. Skinny Jump is provided through a network of community partners for people who cannot currently afford a broadband connection, and costs just $5 for 30GB of data (up to 150GB for $25 a month).

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