COVID-19: Govt seeks support from internet service providers

The Government of Maldives has invited service providers to work together and pledge their support for President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih’s initiative to ensure telecommunication and internet connectivity to alleviate daily routines within the constraints of Physical Distancing and Staying Home objectives.

A statement released by the President's Office on Tuesday said the government recognizes the loss of earnings and income and the additional burden on internet usage due to home stay, e-schooling and working from home during the current state of Public Health Emergency. The President's Office said the government has asked service providers to pledge their support for the government's initiative.

The initiative asks service providers to assist their consumers in different areas for the next three months should the public health emergency status exist.

It includes the provision of free fast reliable internet access to all COVID19 task force operation centres and cells, and provision of free internet access for everyone during the period of mandatory isolation or quarantine. Recognizing the extra demand for data beyond normal usage, the government encourages service providers to considerably increase the current data caps and lower the price of data boosts.

The government expects service providers to at least double the original data allowance for 70% of fixed broadband and 50% of mobile broadband customers or to introduce daily uncapped allowances after package data limit has been reached for all fixed broadband and mobile broadband customers. Operators are encouraged to propose additional solutions that would further allow affordable access to fast internet even after reaching package cap limits, said the President's Office.

The government also asked service providers to offer a special data package at an affordable price that would help people stay connected during this pandemic.

The statement further government recognized and thanked service providers for the various initiatives that are beginning to take place, especially in the areas of e-schooling and remote working.