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Check your home network: Demand will congest internet during Covid-19 lockdown

By Shannon Williams, Tue 24 Mar 2020
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Kiwis are being urged to check their home networks, before New Zealand moves into alert level four and the country begins a four-week shut down period.            

New Zealand Telecommunications Forum says demand for data will increase as New Zealanders use their home networks to access internet to continue working, learning and to entertain themselves once the entire country goes into self-isolation. 
“We are fortunate that New Zealand has world-class telecommunications networks that will be able to handle the increase in traffic, but there may be times when the service is slower than usual due to congestion at particular points,” explains Geoff Thorn, chief executive officer of the New Zealand Telecommunications Forum (TCF).

“The industry has been working together to ensure that we are ready for this. We have also been working with the Government to ensure that we can prioritise and meet its most urgent needs.”

Telecommunications retailers including Spark and Vodafone have already taken many steps to support New Zealanders, such as removing broadband data caps and waiving late payment fees.

Vodafone NZ last week announced its new package plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, introducing measures to support customers impacted by the outbreak.

Its COVID-19 Care Plan includes the removal of data caps from data-capped Broadband plans for consumers and small to medium-sized businesses until at least the end of June 2020, and adding extra capacity to fixed, broadband and mobile networks to cope with the extra demand as more people work from home. It will also actively monitor network performance.

Yesterday, Spark said telecommunications providers across New Zealand experienced 'call volumes beyond any level of calling ever seen in New Zealand to date'.

The increase created significant congestion for voice calling at an industry-wide level.

"While broadband has seen increases, these have been within manageable volumes. So in the meantime New Zealanders are encouraged to use internet-based calling options such as Skype or Facetime or text applications like WhatsApp," Spark said.

 "The industry is urging consumers to check their home network will cope with higher usage. The TCF has shared information for consumers on how to get the best from their home internet network," says Thorn.

“It is important that New Zealanders ensure their own home internet networks are up to scratch," he says. 

“There are easy things that New Zealanders can do at home, such as plugging in as many devices as possible directly into their router with ethernet cables, to improve the quality of their home internet. This also frees up the Wi-Fi for other devices," Thorn explains.

He says other tips include using a Wi-Fi extender, and making sure you are on a plan and connection that best suits your needs.

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