Coronavirus putting the strain on telcos

With more and more Australians working from home due to the coronavirus lockdown, telcos and regulators are bracing for strains on the system.

Australia's telecommunications ombudsman is prioritising complaints from the vulnerable, including the sick or those facing money woes.

Optus is putting on an extra 500 support and service staff on deck, with 300 starting in Melbourne on Thursday.

Vice-president of regulatory and public affairs Andrew Sheridan said the company was struggling to answer customer calls.

"So we have mobilised our stores to assist customers and we are hiring new people who can be trained to provide support as well," he told AAP.

But besides prioritising vulnerable customers, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman extended the timeframe telcos needed to respond to non-urgent complaints.

From Thursday, phone and internet service providers will now have 15 days, not 10, to respond to non-urgent complaints before it's escalated to the ombudsman.

The watchdog said it was also working with small businesses struggling to get connected during the pandemic, prioritising businesses with next-to-no service or those where outages may risk lives.

Phone and internet service providers are facing an unprecedented surge as more Australians began working from home.

Foxtel has opened up more entertainment packages to customers to keep them entertained, while removing a cap on data streaming limits.

Its call centres were prioritising customers with immediate needs as it received an influx of calls, chief executive Patrick Delany said.

At the same time, the government owned NBN Co boosted capacity on its satellite network for rural and regional customers.

The Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition called on telcos to pass on the NBN Co's changes to customer by scrapping data caps.

Austrlaian Associated PressBack to Breaking News

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