Half-price internet, and they won’t cut off the phones

Thursday 19 March 2020 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Technology


Half-price internet, and they won’t cut off the phones
Vodafone boss Phillip Henderson speaks to tourism leaders. 20031733

Monopoly telco Vodafone is responding to the Covid-19 economic crisis by giving domestic customers free phone connections and half-price broadband.

Chief executive Phillip Henderson said the company was ready to be empathetic towards those who faced hardship, but he had to ensure the company did not run aground.

It comes after mounting pressure this week for the company to provide cost-effective solutions to help companies and individuals through the struggles of a Covid-19 lockdown.

Both government departments and private companies are preparing to send workers home to work remotely, to assist health authorities in slowing the transmission of coronavirus, if it arrives.

The Prime Minister’s chief of staff Ben Ponia has confirmed that providing staff with IT to work from home is a key part of government’s continuity planning.

Vodafone Cook Islands in a statement said they will be implementing a COVID-19 Care plan to support all of our customers

For residential customers, small business customers, incorporated societies and community groups:

> Pension plans free of charge for 3 months from 1 March
> Free landline rental for ALL customers for 3 months from 1 March
> The due date for payment of monthly postpaid accounts will be extended from 30 days to 90 days
> No termination of any customers service under financial hardship
> A 50% reduction on all Postpay Broadband and Postpay Mobile plans for 3 months from 1 March
> A 50% reduction on all local and national landline and mobile calling rates for 3 months (Prepay and Postpay)

For Corporate customers
> Any corporate customers facing financial hardship can contact us so that we can work out the right assistance and package for your business.

Vodafone says they will be working with Companies to adjust their plans to reflect the downturn in business and will apply specialised care to ensure that they are able to recover rapidly as they exit the worst of the current situation.

Vodafone said: “We understand there will be many questions around this Care Plan, so rest assured our team will be ready to assist with your queries.”

Call Vodafone on 123 for more clarification on the Care Plan.

Fletcher Melvin, the Chamber of Commerce chairman, said they had asked utilities (like Te Aponga and Vodafone) to come up with packages they could offer to businesses and domestic customers.

Henderson said people should not panic.

“People think the crisis will generate a whole lot of capacity, people are talking about working remotely, but we don’t believe this is going to generate a huge increase in demand,” he said.

“As businesses drop demand will drop.”

At a tourism leaders’ meeting attended by nearly 200 people this week, Vodafone was challenged to front up with deals to help the community and the business sector.

Despite increases to data caps last year, Cook Islands internet data remains among the most expensive in the world

And, while Rarotonga and Aitutaki wait for the Manatua undersea cable to be connected, the internet speed remains just a fraction of many of the country’s competitors – a stumbling block to effectively working remotely.

Finance Minister Mark Brown announced that Vodafone would provide free line rentals, and extended payment terms for those who are struggling. It would not cut off people’s phones when they were suffering financial hardship.

Critically, Vodafone would slash 50 per cent of all post-paid mobile and data plans for the next three months.

Earlier, Vodafone Cook Islands chief executive Philip Henderson had assured tourism leaders that his company would work with the business sector.

“We need to accept we are all in this together.”