· Broadband and mobile network infrastructure will continue to be monitored 24/7
· Technology platforms are being scaled up wherever possible with additional investment
· Call centres will be stretched and digital channels are the quickest way to get help
· Vodafone retail stores to close temporarily while in Level 4, online store remains open
Following the PM’s announcement that New Zealand will move to level 4 at midnight Wednesday, Vodafone New Zealand remains focused on delivering essential services and technology to keep Kiwis connected during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jason Paris, Vodafone NZ CEO says, “Connectivity has never been more important to Kiwis. As the nation enters a new phase of self-isolation to fight COVID-19, staying in touch virtually with loved ones and workmates is super important for our nation’s health and wellbeing.
“Our teams are working around the clock ensure we keep Kiwis connected. Just as supermarkets are stocking their shelves with food for the lockdown, we’re prepping our network hubs with extra data capacity. Our broadband and mobile networks are holding up well, and we have a lot of supplies left.
“We’ve been investing heaps of money into shoring up our mobile and broadband internet services, so we’re in a good place. Over the past week we have seen spikes of up to 50% higher than usual mobile data usage, an uplift of 15% in broadband network traffic and a 70% increase in phone calls – and we’re confident we’ll keep up with this new pace of demand in the home-bound days to come.
“But the ongoing impact of COVID-19 means customers will likely experience delays if they try to phone our call centres, so we urge Kiwis to go online in the first instance as we all respond to this unprecedented situation.
“We are doing absolutely everything we can to help our customers, including staff volunteering to lend a hand to our customer care teams and reassigning some retail staff. But we do expect slower wait times, and we ask customers to please be patient. Our team is remarkable, and we will get through this.”
Technology infrastructure in focus
“Our networks infrastructure is closely managed, health checked and monitored 24/7. Telecommunications networks are classed as an essential service – and while the vast majority of our team can work from home, our workforce can continue to visit our physical locations as required as a critical service to ensure that we can help Kiwis maintain strong online connections.
“If there are industry-wide capacity issues, particularly in regional or rural areas, we urge New Zealanders to bear with us as our teams are doing all they can to keep you online. We are aware in particular that there is congestion on many of the Rural Broadband Initiative mobile sites, and we are working on potential options to alleviate that congestion and increase data allocations.
“We’ve been investing in our network in recent years so we’re well placed to keep up with ongoing increases in data demand, but Kiwis can also do their part and consider their concurrent online activities. This means not streaming mobile video, online gaming and downloads all at once – both to reduce your household’s personal data usage as well as helping other New Zealanders to have access to fast and reliable internet services.
“In terms of ongoing connectivity, we are working closely with Government and the wider industry including other telecommunications companies to prioritise work that will make the most difference to New Zealanders at this time.”
Use digital channels first to contact us
Vodafone NZ customers are advised to use digital customer service methods wherever possible to reduce the reliance on call centre staff.
Antony Welton, Customer Operations Director, highlights: “We are living in uncertain times and we understand how important it is for New Zealanders to stay connected to family and friends in a virtual manner.
“The impact of COVID-19 means wait times for some services will likely go up as movement restrictions become more widespread for both our onshore and offshore call-centres, and as New Zealand offices empty and our local and offshore call centre operations switch to working from home.
“We will be prioritising the health and safety of our people and communities first and foremost – and we apologise in advance to Vodafone customers who may find it more difficult to get through to our call centre teams. Please be patient, our people are working as hard as they can, in extraordinary circumstances.”
For those who do need to contact us, we will be releasing a guide for the best channel to use in the coming days – visit our website for more information (https://www.vodafone.co.nz/contact/).
Vodafone retail stores to close temporarily
Commenting on retail stores, Carolyn Luey, Consumer Director, says: “Now the government has announced a move to Level 4 from midnight Wednesday, we are preparing to close Vodafone stores for the corresponding time period. Stores will likely remain closed from 4pm today for four weeks or until the government advises the levels have changed in order to protect our customers and our employees.
“We have a great online store and delivery for SIM cards and mobiles is free, so Kiwis can continue to stay connected during these uncertain times.”
* Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) upgrades nationwide were completed in January: https://news.vodafone.co.nz/news/technology/voltenationwide