When New Zealand first entered lockdown, over 100 days at Alert Levels 4, 3, 2 and 1, we supported our customers to stay connected. During this time, we removed data caps on capped broadband plans and waived late payment fees and disconnections.
From 23 March to 30 June, Spark gave away over 7,200 terabytes of free data. During the peak of the lockdown period this was around 100TB a day of free data, then later settling to around 40TB per day as Kiwis returned to work and school.
As Auckland re-entered lockdown, we again waived data overage charges for all customers on data-capped fixed and wireless broadband plans. This applied to both consumer and small and medium business customers and was in place from 17 August to 30 August.
These support packages were always intended to be a short term measure, to help New Zealand adjust to unprecedented circumstances.
We know some of our customers will be facing new hardships as a result of the pandemic that will make it difficult for them to afford to pay their monthly telecommunications bills in the future. Our new Hardship Policy provides several options for eligible customers who are experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Find out more
To apply for hardship, complete the Financial Hardship form. Go to the form
If you need more data or if you think your broadband needs have changed, there might be a better plan for you. Check your address to see what options are available. Check my address now
To review your data usage, check out MySpark or the Spark app. For information on paying your bill visit spark.co.nz/waystopay
Through the COVID-19 lockdown we were presented with a unique challenge and had to make sure our customers could continue to work, learn and connect from home. So, we made the decision to remove usage caps on capped broadband plans even though as a result we would have a small number of areas where service would be slower at peak times than our usual standard.
Positively, through this challenge we have now seen that our network was able to cope very well despite the fact overall traffic across New Zealand close to doubled. This has given us confidence to start looking at how we provide higher data wireless broadband solutions more broadly. This is not a simple fix and will take some time to deliver but we are working on it.
In the meantime, we have increased our rural wireless broadband data caps – which means our 120GB plan has gone up to 160GB and our 240GB plan has increased to 300GB.
According to 2018 census data from Statistics New Zealand, 211,000 homes around the country still don’t have access to broadband. Research from Internet NZ indicates that cost is the biggest barrier to this access. With the fast-developing COVID-19 situation, this issue is more pronounced than ever.
Our subsidised and not-for-profit broadband product Skinny Jump – aims to bridge the digital divide for New Zealanders who don’t have access to broadband at home.
The Skinny Jump service is available through a community partner network, which is overseen by Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa (DIAA) and includes 130 contact points nationwide spanning community libraries and budgeting services, amongst others.
The service is provided for $5 for 30GB of data (with the option to renew up to five times a month) and comes with a free Wireless Broadband modem. It is entirely prepaid, so there are no long-term contracts or credit checks needed.
All it takes to get set up is to register through a partner and plug in the modem. Read more about Skinny Jump