What Spark Health is doing to support your responses

Kia ora, This notice is to update you on what Spark Health is doing to support your responses to COVID-19.  

During the pandemic we continue in our role as a lifeline utility and an essential service provider. As you know we’re involved in the production, supply and distribution of telecommunication services, and maintenance and repair services for utilities and communications.  

Additionally, as a digital services business we provide a significant amount of IT services to the health sector, and we’re working hard to ensure healthcare organisations can continue to provide care to all New Zealanders.  

Spark’s network capacity and resilience We have significant capacity to manage the expected demand associated with the COVID-19 lockdown, including any potential extension to the lockdown.  

• We’re working around the clock to ensure the continued operation and maintenance of the network and IT services for customers.

• Weekday daytime broadband usage has roughly doubled since remote working became the norm, while data traffic at peak has grown by 27 per cent. Mobile traffic (at peak) has also grown by 22 per cent as many of Spark’s customers have used wireless broadband, which runs on the mobile network, to work, learn and connect.

• While voice calling levels hit unprecedented peaks after the Prime Minister’s announcement of Alert Level 4, they have since moderated. Voice calling has returned to close to business-as-usual levels and we expect this to settle further as people adjust to working from home.

 • As an industry we’ve been working together closely to put more capacity into the network and have expanded the number of links between operators, which has helped to ease congestion.

• We have a work restriction issued on changes to our network or IT infrastructure, to allow complete focus on the performance of our network and meeting critical customer needs.

Business continuity

To support our health customers during COVID-19 we have established a National Response team that includes the Spark Health National Team and our National Services Lead.  

The National Response team coordinates the needs of the health sector and helps prioritise resources and services, with a particular focus on Tier 1 and Tier 2 customers, which include: Ministry of Health, Ambulance Services, Homecare Medical, District Health Boards (including shared service agencies), large Primary Health Organisations, National Aged Care Providers and other national services e.g. New Zealand Health Group, Green Cross Health.  

While the vast majority of our people who work with our health customers are working from home, our essential service teams, when required on-site, continue to operate in split-team structures to limit the potential spread and impact of any confirmed case of COVID-19.  

Spark Health’s focus areas

In response to COVID-19 we are focused on the following areas to assist the sector:

o Support for remote working: licences, laptops, desktops, accessories, phones, routers

o Increasing network capacity: wired and wireless o Increasing cloud capacity

o Implementation of Microsoft Teams / Office 365

o Providing zero rated data to the Ministry of Health meaning New Zealanders won’t use any data when accessing their health information, GP portals or official COVID-19 websites

o Offering a national service desk to enable working from home and virtual health services o Remote clinic connectivity

o Asset buybacks.

Easter 2020

With Easter holidays falling in the first few weeks of Alert Level 4, Spark is taking the opportunity to provide our teams an extended Easter break.  This means we will be extending our Easter period to include Tuesday 14th April to Friday 17th April. Our National Response Team will continue to work through this break. Please contact Will Reedy (will.reedy@spark.co.nz) or Kristian Cook (Kristian.cook@spark.co.nz) if you need support.

In addition, our essential service teams, including our contact centres, faults and customer delivery teams will continue to run throughout this time which will minimise any disruption to you and New Zealand businesses.

Our sourcing and procurement teams will also continue to operate to ensure any equipment that arrives will be delivered.  

What we’re doing for New Zealanders  

Supporting Spark customers: We’re helping customers stay connected by removing overage data charges for customers who go over the limits of their data capped broadband plans, waiving late payment fees and not terminating services for those experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19, all until 23 May 2020. This applies to both small and medium businesses and consumers. Find out more here. Remember, our fair use terms continue to apply.  

Skinny Jump: Over 200,000 Kiwi households don’t yet have internet at home. Spark Foundation is extending Skinny Jump by bringing subsidised broadband to eligible Kiwi families so they can connect, learn and thrive in the digital world. Find out more here  

Working with industry: At times like this we can do more as a collective than we can on our own. As we have done during past crisis situations and natural disasters, we will work with our industry colleagues to ensure we provide New Zealand with a resilient network and the connectivity they need to work, learn and connect. Find out more here Thank You

On behalf of Spark Health we hope you, your family and your teams stay safe. In the meantime, please get in touch with me if you have any questions or need further support from Spark Health.  

Ngā mihi

Dr Will Reedy

Spark Health CEO

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Anna Arrol

Administration Assistant

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