COVID-19 Phone and internet tips
Last updated 8 April 2020.
On this page:
- We’re all adjusting
- Contacting your phone or internet provider
- How your provider can help you
- Help with staying connected
- National Broadband Network (NBN) changes: What you need to know
- How can the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman help?
- Phone and internet providers COVID-19 response
- Tips from industry and consumer advocate
We’re all adjusting
The COVID-19 pandemic is rapidly changing the way Australians live and work. Phone and internet services are more important than ever, providing a vital link for consumers and small businesses to work, study, connect with friends and family, and access important services.
Phone and internet providers are also adjusting to increased demands on their services and pandemic-related disruptions. Lockdowns and social-distancing rules are impacting customer service teams both locally and overseas, and some providers have had to close some retail stores.
As a result, the timeframe for providers to respond to complaints has been extended from 10 to 15 days. The timeframe for providers to respond to urgent complaints from people and small businesses at risk remains unchanged at two business days. This will allow providers to better manage their complaint load and respond to your complaint sooner.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman remains here to help you find a clear way forward when you are unable to resolve an issue with your phone or internet provider.
Contacting your phone or internet provider
Many phone and internet providers are dealing with unprecedented demand for their services while operating with reduced operational, technical and customer support staff. This means you may have to wait longer than normal for assistance from your provider.
Check your provider’s website to see if they are asking consumers to contact them through a preferred channel such as online chat. If possible, use this method for contact. This will ease the pressure on call centres and allow staff to take calls from consumers who may not have another way to contact the provider.
If you have made an effort to talk to your provider and can’t contact them, get in touch with us and we may be able to help.
Is your complaint urgent? Don’t worry, providers are expected to maintain a suitable contact method for at-risk consumers and small businesses with urgent phone and internet issues.
We've provided a short list of provider websites and social pages to help you find what you're looking for.
How your provider can help you
Many providers have introduced temporary changes to help their customers, such as not penalising late payments, or offering a free data upgrade.
Help with paying your bills
If you cannot make your regular payments, contact your provider to discuss options. Your provider will have a ‘Financial Hardship policy’ explaining how it responds to customers in financial difficulty.
We expect your provider to work with you to find alternatives so you can stay connected. This might include extending payment dates, making payment arrangements or changing your service plans to increase affordability.
Know what additional offers may be available
Many providers are offering additional data or unlimited calls within Australia and overseas at no additional cost. If your phone and internet needs have increased significantly because your family is working and studying from home, or you are now running your business online, check your provider’s website to see what offers are available.
Help with staying connected
New connections or faults with existing connections
If you have recently asked for a new connection or contacted your provider about a fault with your current service, there may be a delay in following up with your request. Some providers have support staff working in areas affected by lockdowns.
If repairing a fault at your premises requires technician access, there may be issues due to social distancing requirements.
You may need to talk to your provider about alternative temporary services you could use to connect, such as a ‘dongle’ or increasing your mobile data for hot-spotting to your mobile phone.
National Broadband Network (NBN) changes: What you need to know
Already on the NBN?
NBN Co has released extra network capacity to help deal with the increased demand for phone and internet services delivered over the NBN. This means we can work, study, connect with friends and family, and access important services over the NBN much more reliably.
Waiting to get on the NBN?
If you are not yet connected to the NBN, there may now be more time before your current services are disconnected.
Telstra, NBN Co and the Australian Government have agreed to put a pause on the rules about disconnecting copper and other existing services. This will ensure customers that have not yet moved to the NBN can remain connected at a time when staying in touch is more important than ever.
How can the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman help?
Help with unresolved phone and internet complaints
Residential consumers and small businesses first need to try to resolve their complaint with their phone or internet provider. If the complaint remains unresolved you can lodge a complaint through our online form. We’re here to help, and we’re all in this together.
Help for people or small businesses at risk
We understand how critical it is for people and small businesses at risk to remain connected through phone and internet services. And we are here to help.
We offer urgent assistance to people who:
- have a serious medical condition, or a registered priority assistance service, or
- need an ongoing mobile or internet service to deal with a specific safety risk, or
- need urgent financial hardship support from their provider.
We offer urgent assistance to small businesses whose:
- phone or internet services are completely or partly unusable, or
- business’s phone or internet outage may cause harm to others (for example, the business runs a medical practice or counselling service).
Phone or internet issues for people working from home
Phone or internet problems for people working from home are not in themselves urgent complaints. We understand many people are relying on their home phone or internet services for work now more than ever. Contact us to discuss your unresolved phone or internet problem – we are here to help.
Phone and internet providers COVID-19 response
In this rapidly changing environment, it is important that you access the most up to date information from your provider.
M2 Commander Website
Kogan Mobile Website
Tips from industry and consumer advocate
Communications Alliance website
NBN Co website