Telecoms preparing for surge in internet use as more Canadians work from home

Telecoms preparing for surge in internet use as more Canadians work from home

Several of Canada’s telecom carriers are preparing themselves for a surge of customers that will be working from home and using home internet services in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. 

Bell said in an emailed statement that it is focusing its time to “ensure continued access to network and communications services for consumers, businesses and governments.”

“We’re continuing to update our team members across the country on the situation and equipping them with appropriate resources,” a Bell spokesperson said in an email. 

Quebecor’s Vidéotron said in an emailed statement that it will be suspending usage limits on all of its internet plans in order to encourage customers that need to work from home. 

Vidéotron said that this will be in effect until the end of March and will be applied to the residential and business internet plans of current customers. 

A similar move was made by U.S.-based telecom carrier AT&T, as first reported by Motherboard; the carrier decided to suspend data caps for broadband internet subscribers. 

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. As of noon on Friday, there were 157 confirmed cases in Canada. 

Ottawa-based e-commerce company Shopify asked its workers to start working from home beginning March 16, a move made after Google announced similar measures.

Toronto-based national carrier Rogers confirmed it was going to waive overage fees for current internet customers. Rogers has yet to confirm a timeline.

In an emailed statement, the carrier said the majority of its customers have unlimited home internet access.

“We are temporarily lifting data caps for our customers on different internet plans during the public health situation, as we continue to explore ways to assist our customers,” a Rogers spokesperson said.

It added that in order to assist customers who are self-isolating, it is investing in its network to “stay ahead of demand.”

“Our business continuity team is working tirelessly with our network engineers to ensure our national wireless and business services, emergency services such as 911, and home internet continue to run seamlessly.

“We are monitoring our network and are ready to increase capacity quickly if we see greater consumer demand or usage patterns change significantly.”

Shaw Communications said in an email that it is “confident” that it is in an “excellent position to manage significant network usage increases, especially within our major markets where we expect the largest increases to occur.”

The carrier does not have hard data caps on its internet plans and do not limit customers’ internet data usage, the spokesperson said.

Additionally, Shaw has informed its employees to stay at home if they are feeling unwell.

Vancouver-based carrier Telus noted in an emailed statement that it is also waiving home and internet overage charges.

“We are waiving all home internet overages through the end of April for those who are not on unlimited plans and have overage charges,” a spokesperson said.

The carrier is also waiving all Easy Roam and Pay Per Use mobility roaming charges for Telus and Koodo mobility customers that are “stuck in areas with Level 3 advisories, such as China and Italy, and are unable to return to Canada through the end of April.”

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