Keeping us all connected at a critical time

Our response to the Coronavirus

With more of us spending time away from family, friends and work because of Coronavirus, using digital technology to stay connected has never been more important. It’s a very difficult and uncertain time for us all – and we’re constantly assessing this fast-moving situation and thinking about what more we, as a business that’s central to the UK’s digital society, can do.

I want to share what we are doing now, at BT and EE to keep services up and running, keep our customers connected and keep our colleagues safe.

  • Access to NHS online and 111. More than ever, it’s critical for us all to be able to get up-to-date healthcare information, so all of our EE and BT mobile customers can now access the NHS online without using any of the data in their plan – even if they’ve run out of data completely. Calling 111 remains free for customers across the UK.

  • Unlimited home broadband for all. We’re also removing all caps on your home broadband plans so every customer has unlimited data to use whether working from home, keeping the kids connected to school or streaming the latest films.

  • Vulnerable customers. We’ve a number of initiatives here:

    • To help our most vulnerable BT landline only customers, we’re removing out-of-bundle charges for the most critical services, such as UK landline and mobile calls, and placing a £5 per month cap so they can make the essential calls they need to keep in touch, without worrying about their bill.

    • Personal and local support is important for every customer, but no more so than our vulnerable customers and their carers – who we are treating as a priority. We have specialist teams trained in how to help customers with physical disabilities, mental health issues and a specialist dementia support team, who are doing their very best to ensure those vulnerable customers in isolation get the support they need.

  • Keeping families entertained. We have plenty of ways to help keep the family entertained at home, from our flexible BT TV plans to free video and music streaming trials on EE. Our teams are ready to add these as and when customers ask.

  • Financial support. We know this is already a stressful time for customers worried about their finances, so we’ve put in place a dedicated team to support customers that need extra help with their bills. If a customer contacts us with money worries related to Coronavirus, we’ll work out what works best for them.

  • Keeping connected. We play a vital role in keeping the UK connected. For us to do that in these difficult times, we need to provide enough capacity, and resilience across our UK fixed and mobile networks. Click here to see what our CTO is doing to keep our networks running.

    We know that working from home won’t generate significantly more traffic across our network than working in the office, even with more video calling and conferencing, HD streaming and now digital home schooling. We also have a dedicated team of brilliant engineers in our Network operations centre monitoring 24/7 for even the slightest issues. They’ve seen mobile calls go up, but data usage go down and have even deployed extra monitoring on all areas across our network to stay on top of this constantly evolving situation. My thanks goes out to our people who are putting the network’s and our customers’ needs ahead of their own.

Our people

We have a unique role to play for our millions of broadband and mobile customers – and we know our services are critical to the UK. This is why we’re asking our most important people to come into our contact centres and stores if they’re healthy and able, so customers can get help without leaving their home. And for those that do need to talk to one of our experts face-to-face, we’re keeping our 600+ stores open and ready to help.

We’re asking colleagues to remain vigilant and to protect themselves by strictly following personal hygiene measures. We’ve increased the cleaning throughout our stores and call centres. We are building in social distancing wherever possible in our centres, having people sit and work further apart. We’re paying our people fully, even if they need to isolate, giving them the security to make the right decisions for their health and the health of their loved ones. We’ve also placed a travel ban between sites.

Digital skills and doing more online

I've talked a lot over the past few months about how BT has a responsibility to go further to connect more people and businesses across the UK, to help them make the most of tech and give them the skills they need. This is more important than ever, because not everyone knows how to use the many online services out there.

So we’re helping older people, vulnerable people and those who are less confident in their digital skills to stay in contact with family and friends, keep up to date, and get the best healthcare advice with easy to use and access information on www.bt.com/skillsfortomorrow. That includes guidance on accessing and understanding services online – such as local council, NHS and GOV.UK websites – advice on using video calling and social media and a guide to watching TV and listening to radio online.

As a father of three, I know how important it is – and what a challenge it can be – keeping your kids occupied when they're not in school. In partnership with Internet Matters, we are also providing support to help kids continue learning at home, including activities for 4- to 11-year-olds old to keep developing their computing and digital skills at home. Plus, we have information and activities to help parents keep their kids safe online and to feel better equipped for conversations about the online world.

A huge thank you to all of my colleagues who are keeping our customers connected in this really difficult time – we'll keep working together to make a huge difference to our customers and communities across the UK.

We're here to help. Let's all look after each other.

- Marc Allera, Consumer CEO


Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @marcallera

For more information about what we’re doing in response to Coronavirus, please visit:

EE: www.ee.co.uk/coronavirus

BT: www.bt.com/coronavirus

Plusnet: www.plusnet.co.uk/coronavirus

BT Group: www.btplc.com/coronavirus