Telcos including Telstra and Optus offering support to flood-affected customers

In response to the ongoing severe weather impacting New South Wales and Queensland, Australia’s biggest telcos are extending extra support to affected customers.

Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, Belong and Boost Mobile have each announced initiatives to assist customers to stay connected during the ongoing storms and floods. Phone and internet customers in impacted areas will be eligible for assistance, including free WiFi, extra mobile data, and account credits, depending on your provider and plan.

Telstra flood assistance

Having made its nation-wide network of payphones free to use in October last year, Telstra has been ahead of the game in helping customers stay connected in tough times.  However, the telco has announced additional initiatives that are now available to customers in flood-affected areas.

Alongside offering free local and national calls to standard Australian fixed line and mobile numbers via all Telstra payphones, Telstra has also enabled free use of its Telstra Air WiFi network at eligible payphones in impacted locations. The company has also launched an assistance package for QLD and NSW customers who have been displaced from their homes or businesses due to damaging weather.

Telstra customers may be eligible for the following help:

  • Free call diversion from fixed homes or businesses to another fixed or mobile service of the customer’s choice (Australian numbers only)
  • A 25GB data pack for postpaid mobile customers with a 30-day expiry
  • A 25GB data pack and free calls for prepaid mobile customers with a 30-day expiry

Customers who have suffered severe damage to their homes, or who have lost their homes entirely, may also be eligible for long-term ongoing assistance, including:

  • Free call diversion from fixed homes or businesses to another Australian fixed or mobile service of the customer’s choice, regardless of carrier
  • A one-off credit to a customer’s Telstra fixed/home phone account, to cover costs such as temporary phone connections or reconnection of existing services
  • Free reconnection of a Telstra fixed/home phone service at the customer’s original address

Telstra has also confirmed it will provide community groups in affected areas grants of either cash or technology to the value of $10,000, to cover the cost of new equipment and keep residents connected. The telco expects these grants to total at least $250,000.

If you’re a Telstra customer requiring help, you can call the telco on 1800 888 888 to request assistance.

Optus flood assistance

Optus is focusing on maintaining its network across NSW and QLD, and ensuring any impacted mobile towers or services and repaired and restored as soon as possible. The company has also announced tailored support for customers in affected regions.

“Our thoughts are with those communities currently affected and those facing hard times ahead,” said Matt Williams, Optus Managing Director, Marketing & Revenue.

“These are challenging times for everyone, and the safety and connectivity of our customers is our highest priority.”

Initiatives now available for Optus customers include:

  • Postpaid customers will be provided up to 25GB of additional mobile data on eligible plans
  • Prepaid customers will be provided up to 25GB of additional mobile data on eligible plans
  • Customers and business fixed-line internet customers will be eligible for a free, interim internet service

Optus has launched a dedicated service line to offer assistance to weather-impacted customers. Residential and business customers can call 1800 507 581 for assistance, or message Optus via the My Optus App 24/7.

Customers experiencing financial hardship can also call Optus on 1300 308 839.

Vodafone flood assistance

Vodafone is currently advising customers impacted by severe weather to reach out on 1800 185 289, or email at financial.hardship@vodafone.com.au to request assistance.

The telco has offered disaster-specific relief packages during previous instances of flooding in NSW and QLD. Regarding the assistance available to customers currently affected by storms, a TPG Telecom spokesperson provided Canstar Blue with the following statement.

“To help customers stay connected while they get back on their feet, we have paused billing collections, suspensions and disconnections in flood-affected postcodes. Longer term support is also available through our hardship policy.”

Belong flood assistance

Telstra-owned, low-cost telco Belong is also offering extra support to customers who’ve been hit hard by natural disasters. Belong customers who have been affected by flooding in NSW or QLD may be eligible for assistance, including:

  • One month of account credit for evacuated customers
  • A new modem for internet customers
  • Financial hardship assistance (including payment extensions, waivers of fees or amounts owing, and transfers to a lower cost plan)

Phone and internet customers can apply for help via the Belong website. The telco has also advised it is working to restore impacted mobile and internet services in flood-affected areas.

Boost Mobile flood assistance

Popular prepaid provider Boost Mobile is offering customers in flood-affected southern QLD and northern NSW access to a Disaster Assistance Package, which features the following benefits to use over 28 days:

  • Free calls and texts
  • 25GB of data

Boost Mobile customers in impacted locations will receive a text from the telco with instructions on how to apply for assistance, but can also contact Boost Mobile directly. Customers won’t need an active Boost recharge to be eligible, and if approved the relief package will be applied to their account within 24 hours.

NBN Co updates

NBN Co is offering updates on network outages and repairs via its Twitter account and the NBN Co blog. More than 50,000 services in South East QLD and 62,000 services across northern NSW have been impacted so far, with NBN Co working to restore connections as quickly and safely as possible.

The company advises customers in affected locations to check the NBN Co network outages page for more information and live updates, or to contact their NBN provider for further help.

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