Telecommunications: Coronavirus

Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport written question – answered on 17th November 2020.

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Photo of Chi Onwurah Chi Onwurah Shadow Minister (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy), Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, what assessment he has made of the effect of closuring telecoms customer support services during the covid-19 outbreak on (a) UK businesses, (b) consumers and (c) those people and businesses who do not have access to fixed lines.

Photo of Matt Warman Matt Warman The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

The Government recognises the ongoing importance of the telecommunications industry at this critical time. We have taken action to support the industry to respond to the crisis, including issuing guidance to industry, as well as local authorities and landowners on how to safely ensure that work to maintain and repair the telecoms network can continue, given the importance of telecoms infrastructure at this critical time. Furthermore, the Government and Ofcom have agreed a set of commitments with the UK’s major broadband and mobile providers to support vulnerable consumers during the pandemic in addition to providing new and generous landline and mobile offers, such as free or low cost mobile data boosts.

The Government agreed that tougher national restrictions were needed to help get the virus under control and protect the NHS. There was joint agreement that there was no alternative to new national restrictions and there are significant restrictions on some sectors of the economy, including all non-essential retail. However, providers have continued to provide online and phone support services during both local and national restrictions.

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