Chorus will postpone the annual regulated broadband price increase it typically applies each year to keep pace with the consumer price index (CPI) as it works to address the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The broadband wholesaler, which said it would put a halt on its annual price increase until further notice, also indicated it would continue with its plans to reduce the price of its Gig connection from $60 to $56 on 1 July 2020 as originally planned, to help support improved working from home experiences.
Moreover, the company said it would work through additional options to provide support for customers, retailers and service companies to ensure as many end customers as possible are able to stay connected to essential infrastructure as the country enters lockdown conditions due to COVID-19.
“We work within a complex ecosystem and the situation continues to evolve rapidly. We need to ensure our support helps those who need it most, across our entire industry,” Chorus CEO JB Rousselot said in a statement to shareholders.
The telco, meanwhile, said on Monday it would work to formalise how field work will be prioritised in the wake of the government’s move to increase the COVID-19 alert level to four from 25 March.
“Given our status as a lifeline, we will prioritise repairing faults as quickly as possible, and connecting locations where no other form of fixed line connectivity is available,” Rousselot said. “We will continue to perform connections and upgrades in locations that already have a fixed line connection, but only if field resources are available.
“We have put a number of controls in place to identify situations where customers may be self-isolating, and any technicians who display any signs of illness are stood down and put into self-isolation immediately, along with their close contacts.
“We also have detailed health and safety requirements in place for use on occasions where faults occur at homes where individuals are ill or self-isolating.“I would like to thank our field force for their immense commitment during a very difficult time, recognising the importance of the work they do to all New Zealanders,” he said.
At the same time, despite the country’s telco voice call services struggling with a surge in volumes after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced New Zealand was moving from level two to level three on the government's four-level lock-down scale, with level four to come into place 48 hours later, Chorus has claimed its broadband infrastructure is holding up.
Although daytime data consumption continues to grow rapidly, the company told shareholders, consumption is still currently lower than the usual 9PM busy hour, with ‘significant’ capacity headroom available above the record peak throughput ever recorded on the network.
In addition, the company is continuing to work collaboratively with its 80-plus retail service provider (RSP) partners to support them to add capacity as required.