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Spark and Vodafone confirm some mobile phone calls are not getting through

Spark and Vodafone confirm some mobile phone calls are not getting through

Some mobile phone calls are failing to get through due to a 20 per cent increase in the number of calls being made as more people work from home and a surge in international spam calls.

The Telecommunications Forum, whose members include Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees, said there were some points of congestion “across the country”.

Chief executive Geoff Thorn said phone companies were “looking at this issue with urgency” and encouraged people to use internet-based calling options such as Skype or Facetime “until this issue is fixed”.

“In light of the evolving Covid-19 situation the technical teams of all operators have been working together on a daily basis to ensure the entire industry is aligned and focussed on fixing congestion issues as they occur,” chief executive Geoff Thorn said.

Callers were told the person they were calling was not available and smartphones reported there was a “call failure”.

The issue was intermittent and it was not immediately clear how was widespread it was.

Spark spokeswoman Althea Lovell and Vodafone NZ spokeswoman Nicky Preston subsequently confirmed an industry-wide issue.

Preston said a surge in international spam calls created by “robo-diallers”, including from Australia, appeared to be to partly to blame. 

She believed it might be a coincidence that the spam issue emerged just as many businesses around the country began instructing employees to work from home to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The country’s major telecommunications firms have taken steps to try to ensure people remain connected in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and to support people working from home.

Spark has axed broadband data caps for consumers and small and medium-sized businesses that are not yet on uncapped plans for 60 days from today.

It will also not disconnect customers or small businesses who fall behind on their bills during that period.

Vodafone NZ subsequently announced that it would also remove any data caps on its fixed-line broadband services until “at least the end of June” and would not disconnect or impose late fees on customers who were in hardship as a result of Covid-19 during the next six months.

It will prioritise support for government agencies and other customers that provide healthcare or related services or other “critical services related to the Covid-19 response”.

Vocus NZ, which owns the Slingshot, Orcon and Flip internet brands is upgrading customers to uncapped broadband plans at no extra cost.

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