Telecommunications providers are doing their bit to give back to hard-working healthcare practitioners during the novel coronavirus crises, with some of the nation’s largest telcos, including Telstra, Optus and Vodafone, announcing initiatives to support frontline medical workers.
Vodafone and Optus each announced they would waive mobile access charges for AHPRA registered health professionals. For Vodafone customers this will mean two-months mobile access charge fee-free, while Optus customers will be given a three-month free period. For both telcos this plan covers the cost of accessing the network but does not include handset costs.
With so many of us working and studying from home connectivity has become more important than ever, and telcos are also rolling out new initiatives to support their customer base and keep their customers connected.
A variety of incentives and plans have been announced for non-healthcare worker customers from telco providers. Customers with Telstra, Optus and Vodafone Australia will all have access to bonus data during April, while Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have announced there will be no disconnections during April.
All registered health practitioners with Vodafone will be offered a two-month credit on their post-paid access fee or their prepaid recharge. Customers on a plan with the telco will be credited the monthly value of their access fee for two months, while prepaid customers will be credited two times the value of their current prepaid recharge.
Vodafone Australia CEO Iñaki Berroeta said a number of additional initiatives would be implemented to support those most in need, including registered health practitioners.
“We recognise frontline healthcare workers are working in extraordinarily challenging conditions as they care for Australians in need,” Mr Berroeta said*.
“This means frontline healthcare workers can get on with the vital work they’re doing and be assured we’ll keep them connected.”
Vodafone has also committed to not charging late payment fees, not suspending any services and not following up debt collection until at least the end of April for general customers.
Vodafone customers on the Consumer Voice, Business Red or Business Red Plus plans facing financial difficulties will also be eligible for a temporary $10 Stay Connected Plan. Customers can apply via the Vodafone website for the plan that includes 3GB of mobile data and unlimited calls and SMS. Active prepaid customers will also be sent an additional 10GB of data via an opt-in SMS. A range of essential information websites, including Services Australia and My Gov, are also now accessible to Vodafone customers without dipping into data usage.
Optus is giving healthcare workers three months post-paid mobile access fee-free. This means that pre-paid customers are exempt from the initiative and device costs will still need to be paid.
“We are so grateful to all the nurses, doctors and healthcare workers who are working in unprecedented conditions” said Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin*.
“These are trying times and we recognise that our health care workers are putting themselves on the frontline day-in-day-out to protect and help Australians during this pandemic, and we want to say thank you.”
For non-healthcare workers who are facing financial difficulties, Optus is also offering the choice of putting post-paid mobile access charges on hold for up to 90 days. Starting next week customers, including small businesses, will have access to a digital sign-up to take up the offer.
Optus has announced they will waive late payment fees and suspension of disconnection and credit collection activities until the end of April. All Optus customers can additionally access boosted mobile data allowances, suspended Optus Sport subscription fees, and unlimited fixed broadband plans until the end of May.
Telstra made the move in mid-March to offer their consumer and small business customers additional data and to offer unlimited home phone calls to pensioners. Telstra consumer and small business home broadband customers have access to unlimited data until the end of April at no additional cost.
Post-paid mobile and mobile broadband customers can also access an extra 25GB of data and eligible pre-paid customers can access an additional 10GB of data. Customers can apply for the additional data allowances through the Telstra website or app.
Words by Danielle Austin
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