Some families with school-aged children have discovered that the Ministry of Education is offering 150GB free internet each month for six months. The Spark Foundation is also offering a free 6GB data boost each school day between 9am and 3.30pm.
So the question has been raised about whether or not families who have signed up for Jump before the Ministry tabled their offer get access to the free 150GB offer as well. These families do get the free 6GB daily boost.
This is a fair enough question and one that is currently being discussed between the Ministry of Education and the Spark Foundation. The current position is that families who have signed up through us do not get the free 150GB, but this might change, as early as next week.
We have to be clear though, we did advise schools who were scrambling to get internet connections for their students over the last five weeks to consider waiting until the Ministry made its offer, but those who preferred not to wait were welcome to connect through our service.
The Skinny team has reported an overnight technical glitch with the Jump top up limit not renewing as we move into May. By 9am, 84 people had already called the Helpdesk about this. Skinny is working to fix this. Just in case you receive any inquiries.
We recognise that with the move to Covid-19 level 3 today many Jump partners are starting to think about the impact of moving to level 2. While it is expected that public venues, such as libraries, will be permitted to open under level 2, the one metre distancing rule will make it difficult to offer a full range of services.
Whether or not Jump partners wish to resume offering Jump to their communities under level 2 will be a decision for them to make. We are able to continue to offer the national self-service Jump option as long as it is required, but we also look forward to the day when all partners are able to resume providing the additional face-to-face support that so many people still require.
I had a message from one of our self-service recipients the other day. He said in a brief email “OK, I’ve got the modem. What now?”. While the Skinny Helpdesk is providing this follow up support, we know many people would much prefer to talk with someone they know in their local communities.
A question this morning from a family in Covid-19 lockdown with 3 school-aged children. They have no broadband at their temporary accommodation and are unsure about when they will be able to return to their home or when their children can return to school. They are currently using their mobile phone as a hotspot for internet connectivity, but are finding this very expensive.
The answer is yes; they are eligible for Jump. When they return to their home, they need to contact the Skinny Helpdesk to advise a change of address if they wish to continue using Jump.
This is not much different to families in emergency accommodation, who for the last three years have been able to connect to Jump while they are in temporary accommodation and take their Jump modem with them when they move to a more permanent location (assuming of course their new address is in a Skinny Jump coverage area).
The Jump eligibility criteria make it very clear that Jump is for households without a broadband internet connection. But this doesn’t stop people applying and putting forward their case. In most cases we have accepted their application. The scenarios we have accepted and those we have declined are summarised below. Most of the 60 (2%) we have declined are because of no Skinny wireless coverage.
- A senior on a fixed income is struggling to maintain the cost of an ‘on account’ service.
- An unemployed person can’t afford to keep a fixed line service.
- I am in a self-contained 2-bedroom sleep-out without access to the internet.
- Person living in rural community, referred by Health Services Provider, has the internet, but it’s too expensive.
- My brother had a Skinny jump modem, but he no longer resides here.
- Rural broadband is unreliable and insufficient for work and online learning for kids.
- I only have access the the internet from my smartphone.
- The other property with owners on site has internet, but I do not and cannot use their internet.
- A rural family has a capped Vodafone service that is unreliable and stops working when the cap is reached. Requires a supplementary service for a high school student.
- Wifi can not be installed in my Nana’s retirement village under current lockdown conditions. Jump is so much more affordable.
- We are moving out of Mum’s house next week.
- Previously had Jump modem, but modem lost in burglary.
- There is a paid WiFi service in our accommodation but it is cost prohibitive at $100 per month.
- Very inconsistent ADSL; not suitable for our needs.
- Existing provider disconnected 4 months ago because of overdue fees.
- My current internet connection cannot sustain work conference calls.
- Broadband connection is very slow and unreliable. It is not possible for 3 high school children and teacher to use for work/schooling.
- I am unable to afford my next internet bill and will be disconnected before the end of the month.
- Unable to afford data to join class.
- We live in a camping ground.
- Social housing tenant paying $129 per month for internet which she is struggling to maintain.
- I am currently in a motel and not sure where we will end up after the lockdown.
- I am in temporary emergency housing; the signal from the tower provides a very poor signal in my cabin.
- A teacher working from home requires extra data to teach from home.
- A migrant worker with an internet connection, but wanting a separate connection for his kids ‘to get online learning’.
- Outside Skinny wireless coverage area.
For anyone wanting to switch from an existing service it is important that they understand the full impact of making the change, i.e.
- Will they face any costs in terminating their existing connection; there could be an early termination fee if they are on a fixed term contract? Make sure they have contacted their existing provider to understand these costs, e.g. as a minimum there is likely to be a requirement for one month’s notice.
- Do they fully understand the extra effort involved in managing a prepay account requiring regular top-ups?
- Do they understand the data cap (150GB per month) that applies to Jump connections?
First there was the B315, the Jump modem we have all become very familiar with during the last 3 years. These are still flying out the door and will continue to do so until supplies are exhausted (probably within the next 4-6 weeks). DIAA, together with our Stepping UP partner network, is the exclusive distribution channel for this product. Which means we are also the exclusive distribution channel for replacement modems. B315 customers must report any modems they suspect as faulty to the Skinny Helpdesk. The Helpdesk team will attempt to fix any faults remotely, but if not, they will log the modem as ‘faulty’ and this triggers a request to DIAA to ship a replacement. The faulty modems cannot be repaired and customers receiving a replacement modem are requested to return the faulty unit to their nearest Jump delivery partner (when they open up again after the COVID-19 lockdown). They should be added to the recycling box and eventually returned to Sims for recycling.
Welcome to the B618. This device is initially being used as part of the Ministry of Education’s internet support package for students without a home broadband connection. Approximately 3500 of these have been shipped directly from Ingram Micro (Spark’s hardware supplier) to student homes, using a mailing list supplied by the Ministry of Education. As for the B315’s, customers are to report any faults directly to the Skinny Helpdesk. They will be logged and a request issued to DIAA to issue a replacement. Unlike the B315’s, a return courier bag will be sent with the replacement modem. The modems will be returned to DIAA and then forwarded for repair to Telegistics (Spark’s hardware repair company).
We do not expect partners to provide any support, at least at this stage, for the B618 modems. If you receive any inquiries or requests for support from households with these modems, please direct them to the Skinny Helpdesk (0800 475 4669).
Some time ago, we asked partners to hold back on actively promoting Jump to the new eligible communities, announced on 25 March 2020. As this announcement coincided with New Zealand moving to Level 4 of the COVID-19 lockdown, we were uncertain what impact the lockdown would have and how well our support systems, including modem delivery and the Helpdesk support, would cope. There were also discussions going on between the Ministry of Education and internet service providers about the best way to respond to the temporary shutdown of schools.
Time has now moved on and the Ministry has announced the support it is providing for school students. The demand for new Jump connections has settled to around 100 per day and our systems and processes (DIAA and Skinny Helpdesk) are performing well, despite the extra challenges of the COVID-19 lockdown.
So we are happy for partners to now promote Jump to eligible people in their communities. If you have interest from local media, you may wish to share some of the high level statistics mentioned in my earlier post.
I am sure Alistair Fraser, our Stepping Up/ Jump Ambassador in Whanganui, would be happy for me to share the media release he prepared for local community media. You might also want to refer to Spark’s media release here.
The short answer is yes. In fact this has become such a common request during the COVID-19 lockdown that we have added an extra field in the Application Form to cover this situation. Applicants must still enter the address where they intend to use the Jump modem, as we need this to verify that they do have Skinny wireless coverage, but we have added an optional field as a preferred delivery address.
There are many different circumstances where people may choose a different delivery address, but one of the most common has been in rural communities where gates are locked or there is no delivery letter box. To make life easier for the courier, people in these situations have suggested a more accessible address belonging to a family member or friend.
The short answer is yes, but when we receive more than one Jump application from the same email address, this raises a flag in our system for us to investigate further. In a number of cases we have received a separate email from a representative of an organisation checking out that this is OK. For example, one situation involved a small retirement village, and another, special housing for people with disabilities. In both cases, an administrator or support person was preparing the applications on behalf of the people they were caring for. But as the people are living in separate accommodation and will be responsible for managing their own Skinny accounts, we are happy to supply individual modems.
However, when it comes to activating the modems and setting up Skinny accounts, individual emails will be required for each user. This email and password must be accessible by the person who will be responsible for topping up the Jump account each month. Normally this would be the person who is using the Jump service, but we have encountered situations where children are taking responsibility for setting up (and paying for!) Jump internet connections for their elderly parents.
It is not uncommon for more than one Jump request to come from the same physical address. This does raise an alert in our system and we take a close look at why this might be happening. For example, if the request is coming from the same name and email, then we treat this as a duplicate application and simply delete the application. If the application is coming from two different people with the same second name, we suspect this might also be a duplicate and will follow up with a phone call to the family to find out why two modems are required. Almost invariably we have discovered that this is because two people living in the same household have independently applied for a modem, without the other person knowing. So this is easily resolved as well by deleting one of the applications.
The other situation we are encountering is for people or communities sharing a physical address, but with multiple residences. This could be separate accommodation located on the same section or even a family living separately in a caravan (or a tent, as we discovered in one case). Or it could be like a gated community with separate individual dwellings.
In these cases where different people or families are residing at the same address, we accept individual Jump applications.