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Published Wednesday 25 Mar 2020


Telecommunications companies are lifeline utilities and as such are expected to continue to provide their services to New Zealanders during all Alert Levels.

 

The industry takes this responsibility seriously, and our providers have robust business continuity plans in place to ensure they can continue to keep New Zealand connected during this challenging time.  

 

A number of telecommunications providers, including 2degrees, Vodafone and Spark, have a network of physical retail stores across the country. The industry received confirmation from Government last night that any entity that provides maintenance and repair services for utilities and communications, including their supply chains, is an essential service.

 

As such, industry is now working on a no-contact collection model that will allow its retail stores to provide essential services, such as modem and handset provision and SIM replacement, during the lock-down. While the details of this model are worked through, retail stores will close. Vodafone’s stores closed yesterday, and Spark and 2degrees stores will close at the end of trading on Wednesday March 25.

 

Geoff Thorn, CEO of the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF) said: “Customers need hardware to remain connected to friends and family and to work from home during the lock-down. If someone experiences an issue with a modem, handset or SIM during the four-week period, and cannot get these items replaced, they could be cut off from the outside world. The courier network may be heavily congested over the coming weeks, so implementing a purely online delivery solution could still leave people disconnected for days.

 

“To ensure we can keep all New Zealanders connected, the industry is currently designing a no-contact collection model that would allow some of its stores to continue operating. While the details are still being confirmed, in practice this would mean that while stores would remain closed to foot traffic they will act as distribution sites for a ‘no-contact’ pick-up by the customer. We are taking the time to get the model right, to ensure we are protecting the health and safety of the people who will be operating the retail stores.  

 

“Our goal is to maintain strict adherence to the lock-down – no contact between individuals – while ensuring no New Zealander is disconnected.”

 

The industry will ensure the no contact collection model is only utilised in the case of a genuine connectivity need.