NZ Lockdown: Data Cap Removal And Free Broadband From Major Telcos

Aug 26, 2021
By Staff writer

Spark, Vodafone, and 2degrees are removing data caps in all its fixed and wireless broadband plans. This is to help struggling households meet their internet needs amidst the NZ Level 4 lockdown.

These major telco providers are keen on implementing this measure until the restriction eases. 2degrees CEO Mark Aue said, “We don't want any of our customers who are managing work and study commitments to worry about the extra demand on their household broadband.”

On top of unlimited data credits on all their plans, Spark NZ also gives a free Skinny Jump wireless modem inclusive of 150GB of free data per month, until the end of the school year. This is provided to eligible students in decile 1 and 2 schools through ‘Ciena Jump for Students Fund.’ 

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A rise in broadband usage this lockdown

Broadband usage has surged yet again throughout the country, due to this lockdown. It’s even higher than the 2019 Rugby World Cup record of 2.6Tbps or the first lockdown record of 3.0Tbps per day. On August 18th, the traffic peaked at 3.6Tbps — a 27% day-to-day increase.

On the same day that the traffic has recorded a new all-time high, New Zealanders consumed 26 petabytes of data. This amount of data can run Netflix on HD for 1,000 years without ever needing to stop or pause!

Despite this astronomical increase, Chorus assured that there’s no congestion and that they can supply the load of internet connection. Currently, they can handle at least 4.5Tbps without any significant impact on internet traffic. Rest assured that they’ve also been consistently upgrading their networks to address this demand.

Spark NZ’s various initiatives to improve the internet

To address the rise in broadband needs, Spark announced on August 25th the removal of data limits on all its fixed and wireless broadband plans until the end of lockdown. This applies to both their home and small business customers in both rural and urban areas. This is limited to broadband plans only; mobile phone plans are excluded.

Currently, the lockdown is extended until next Tuesday, August 31st, for Auckland, and until Friday, August 27th, for the rest of the country. Although, this will likely be extended according to some expert predictions.

Spark's Skinny Jump programme for low-income households

Skinny Jump is delivered via 4G fixed-wireless broadband with free 15GB of data per month. “After that, it is just $5 for 30GB of data. Customers can top up their accounts up to five times each month. In addition, from tomorrow, during lockdown, Jump customers also get a 6GB data boost on weekdays between 9 am and 3.30 pm,” Customer director Grant McBeath says.

The programme recorded a year-to-year growth of 58%, now covering over 15,121 households. While this is a big help in improving the current internet landscape in NZ, it’s short in its goal of covering 20,000 homes through FY21 aspiration.

Spark’s ‘Ciena Jump for Students Fund’ for students

Another Spark initiative is to help households through its ‘Ciena Jump for Students Fund.’ In partnership with Ciena, they have allocated $500,000 to help students connect to reliable internet. As mentioned, eligible students in decile 1 and 2 high schools get a free Skinny Jump wireless modem, inclusive of free 150GB of data per month.

Most importantly, Spark says customers can apply for a short or long-term extension if they’re having a hard time settling their bills during the lockdown.


Vodafone and 2degrees’ data cap removal

Vodafone also announced the removal of data caps on consumer and business rural broadband plans until the end of Alert Level 3 in the country. The unlimited data credits are available only from midnight to 5PM the next day. They’re yet to announce data cap removal for fibre, HFC cable, and copper connections.

For 2degrees, data limits and overuse charges for fixed and wireless broadband plans are lifted. While almost all 2degrees customers are already on an unlimited broadband data plan, it’s a great way to support households and businesses that still have data caps.

How does this affect you as a consumer?

If you’re on Spark, Vodafone, or 2degrees and your internet plan is valid for this data cap removal, it’s good news for you! You don’t have to worry about skimping on your broadband, especially as it’s one of the essential utilities of this lockdown.

Plus, this move from major telcos may prompt other broadband companies to remove their data caps as well. Especially as the lockdown is still uncertain, you may soon hear good news from your provider about their relief measures for your broadband plan.

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