Coronavirus (COVID-19)

How mobile operators are dealing with COVID-19 and keeping the UK connected

The spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) represents a very challenging and uncertain time for us all. While it is difficult to predict precisely how it will continue the mobile industry is doing everything it can to ensure the UK remains connected.

With mobile connectivity now very much part of the nation’s critical infrastructure, our member operators, EE, O2, Three and Vodafone are working hard to support all their customers. We understand how vital it is to ensure the UK remains connected, especially as we are asked to limit our movements and physical interaction.

Mobile UK has provided below some of the actions the industry is taking, information on how to get into contact with each mobile operator, and some additional useful advice that may be helpful.

Access to Health Information

  • Access to the NHS UK online websites (including NHS England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) will be free, meaning that your data allowances will be unaffected.
  • Please remember that calls to the NHS 111 helpline are already free to use across all providers.
  • Calls to the Non-Emergency 101 service to the Police are also free.

Supporting out NHS

  • Offer identified NHS frontline staff, who are existing customers, the mobile data access, voice calls and text they need, at no extra cost, on their personal mobiles used for work purposes, to enable the staff to work remotely without fear of extra charges and limitations.
  • Operators have agreed generous data allowances for vulnerable mobile customers, so that patients that can only use a mobile connection for their video consultations will have sufficient data available.

Protecting our customers and keeping the UK connected

  • Mobile network operators already have more than enough capacity to handle the different  demands expected due to COVID-19 but rest assured extra capacity is being added as the situation requires.
  • Dedicated teams are in place to support critical organisations, vulnerable customers and  businesses.

Protecting our people

  • All mobile operators are taking additional steps to allow staff who can do so, work from home while at the same time ensuring critical functions, like the mobile networks, continue to be managed effectively.
  • Travel restrictions between company sites have been put in place, and remote virtual meetings are encouraged.

Protecting vulnerable people

  • Mobile operators have committed to working with customers who find it difficult to pay their bill as a result of COVID-19 to ensure that they are treated fairly and appropriately supported.
  • Mobile operators have agreed to offer some new, generous mobile and landline packages to ensure people are connected and the most vulnerable continue to be supported. For example, some of these packages include data boosts at low prices and free calls from their landline or mobile.
  • Access to websites supporting some of the most vulnerable victims of crime will be free of charge during the coronavirus pandemic.

Telecommunications sector included as a critical sector in new regulations

The Government has designated the telecommunications sector as one of the critical sectors in new government regulations and legislation in response to dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.

This means that work to repair and maintain the telecommunications network must be allowed to continue at the current time. Gatherings of more than two people are permitted where this is essential for work purposes. Further information and guidance for local authorities and landowners can be found here.

Further information from the MNOs

For more details on each mobile operators’ response measures to COVID-19, please use the links below:

Further information from HM Government and Devolved Institutions

  • UK Government guidance and advice on COVID-19 – click here
  • UK Government Covid-19 guidance for telecommunications infrastructure deployment in England - click here
  • Scottish Government COVID-19 guidance on essential projects (including digital communications) - click here
  • Welsh Government COVID-19 guidance for telecommunications infrastruture deployment - click here

Additional information and advice

  • Ofcom - Stay Connected - A helpful guide - click here
  • Ofcom - Improving indoor coverage and how to set up Wifi calling - click here
  • BBC - How to clean your mobile phone - click here
  • World Health Organisation (WHO) - Myth Busting - click here