Australia’s major telcos are working on more long-term flood assistance packages, with Telstra and NBN Co going public with support packages.
As well as its existing support packages, which Telstra expects to run into “several million dollars”, the carrier is putting $250,000 on the table as Local Flood Grants, which the carrier says will provide “either cash or technology to the value of up to $10,000 to eligible local groups”.
CEO Andy Penn said: “As part of the community, we know how important supporting each other during these times is and we wanted to reassure people we’ll be there as they recover and rebuild.”
“Many of our techs and frontline customer service teams live in these communities and are members of these organisations. We want to do our part to support them and provide practical support for the volunteers who are so often the ones meeting community needs and responding to Australia’s natural disasters.”
The carrier is also supporting affected staff with emergency accommodation, cash advances for urgent food and clothing, and paid disaster leave, carers’ leave, and volunteer leave where required.
Telstra said it is also sending more than 3000 Smart Modem 2 units (which include unlimited mobile network data access) to customers who need to remain connected while fixed line services are repaired and restored.
NBN Co offering wholesale rebates
NBN Co told iTnews its support package will be worth up to $6 million.
The bulk of NBN Co’s support, $5.8 million, will go to consumers and small businesses - “Traffic Class 4, fixed wireless, Sky Muster, and Sky Muster Plus services”, NBN Co said in a letter sent to RSPs and provided to iTnews.
There will be $150,000 for Enterprise Ethernet and Traffic Class 2 services, and $50,000 for business satellite service customers.
These rebates will be offered through RSPs, and NBN Co said since the impacted areas are expanding, “we will not be limiting the funding to current flood or Force Majeure Event impacted areas”.
The funding is available for eligible services from the 25 February 2022 until 30 April 2022 inclusive and RSPs must submit all claims by 5pm 31 May 2022.
RSPs will be able to make their claims based on their share of the estimated “total national industry active services” for 28 February.
“We are taking a national approach to the funding allocation as the flood disaster is no longer in limited locations and the ongoing customer impact remains unpredictable as the storm fronts continue to move and evolve”, the NBN Co statement said.
Eligible RSPs were advised of their provisional share of funding yesterday, with confirmation to follow next week.
Where service to a premises was interrupted for more than 24 hours, RSPs will be able to provide a one-off credit worth around one month’s AVC charge for consumers (around $50), $300 for enterprise customers, and $1100 for business satellite services.
Where residential or business premises are lost, the rebates rise to $300 for residential and small business customers, $1800 for enterprise ethernet, and $6,600 for business satellite services.
NBN Co’s offer to RSPs noted that it may be necessary to revise funding available in the future.
Vodafone not chasing bills
With a predominantly-metropolitan customer base, TPG subsidiary Vodafone is less exposed to mass disruptions than Telstra or Optus.
A TPG spokesperson told iTnews the company’s focus is on “keeping as many customers in flood-affected areas connected as possible”.
To that end, the company has “paused collections, suspensions and disconnections in impacted areas to ensure customers do not have to worry about their phone bill while dealing with flood damage and loss.”
The company is offering 25GB of extra mobile data “on all Vodafone, TPG and iiNet plans to customers in more than 150 postcodes”, redeemable via SMS.
Customers needing further support can obtain it via the company’s hardship policy, TPG told iTnews.
Update: Optus donates to Red Cross
On Friday, Optus advised iTnews it had donated $250,000 to the Red Cross Flood Appeal. Prepaid and postpaid mobile customers can also claim 25GB of additional data, and there's a dedicated customer hotline at 1800 507 581 for customers who need extra support.