The big news of the week came on Wednesday 8 April, with the Minister of Education, the Hon Chris Hipkins, announcing an $87.7 million plan to roll out learning from home. This will involve a combination of online, television and physical learning resources. The part that mostly affects Jump partners is the provision of internet services for households that currently do not have an internet connection. The Ministry is collaborating with all telecommunications and internet service providers to make this happen as quickly as possible, with priority being given to households with senior secondary students working towards NCEA.
Spark is contributing to this by accelerating the deployment of Jump modems, the first of which were distributed on 9 April. These are being supplied direct from the warehouse of Spark’s hardware partner, Ingram Micro. DIAA will be assisting at the national level with faulty modem returns, but we are not expecting to involve delivery partners in handing the returns or in supplying replacements.
The process for reporting faulty modems will be the same – all Jump users must contact the Skinny Helpdesk if they suspect a faulty modem; the Skinny team will attempt to resolve the problem remotely, but if they are unable to do this, they will log the modem details in an online fault register that is shared with DIAA. We will supply a replacement modem and either:
(1) a courier bag for the return of the modem to us (mainly for units supplied as part of the school programme); or
(2) instructions to hold the faulty modem until after the lockdown, when it should be returned to their nearest Jump partner (see below).
Skinny Jump is a subsidised broadband service for homes who currently do not have broadband because cost is a barrier. On Wednesday 25th March, 30GB plans were reduced from $10 to $5, making Jump even more accessible to low income homes. This is a permanent pricing change.
Because Skinny Jump is already a subsidised product the 60GB data boost does not apply to Jump customers. We hope that homes that previously had no broadband find Jump is a price accessible service that allows them to get and stay connected.
With schools now closed, how are we helping school students who do not have broadband?
Spark, Skinny and Spark Foundation are in discussion with the Ministry of Education about how they can help get all school students set up with a broadband connection. Jump might play a role in this, as might other technologies like fibre and copper connectivity.
The MoE has indicated that around 50,000 homes with school students don’t have a broadband connection. Rolling out at this scale (and pace) comes with many logistical challenges. The Spark Foundation is asking all schools requesting Jump to sit tight for now so they can coordinate a plan with MoE.
Families who don’t want to wait may sign up using our existing processes; for the most part this currently involves registering online using our Skinny Jump Order form. A modem will then be couriered to the family with a self-service user guide to activate the modem and set up a Skinny account.
However, we (DIAA) are not able to respond to schools requesting large volumes of modems; we hope this will be sorted by MoE before schools open again after Easter.
We are continuing to supply Jump modems, as internet connections are recognised as an essential service:
Basically there are two options:
Option 1: Partner Assisted. This is a variation of our current (pre-COVID-19 Lockdown) model. Modems are still supplied by the Jump Partner, but the family is assisted by phone with the set up process, including new email if required, creating the Skinny account and completing the online Stepping UP Profile form. Pretty much the same as you have been doing, only without the user physically coming to the library. The new Skinny User Guide now being supplied with all modems explains what families need to do when they get their modem home, including top-ups. The main challenge with this model is how you as a partner get the modem to the family; if couriering is the only option, then you are better to go with Option 2 below. Some partners are implementing ‘no-contact’ options where families can collect their modems from the front porch or deck of the Partner’s home after it has been set up. (we have received 56 signups through this process in the last 2 days)
Option 2: Self Supported. In this case, people contact you as the designated staff person by telephone. You complete the online Spark Jump Order form on their behalf based on information they supply over the phone. And that’s all you need to do (takes just a couple of minutes). We (DIAA) receive the submitted order form and courier a modem directly to the user, along with a Self-service User Guide. This explains how to set up a Skinny account, which the user can either do on their own or they can call the Skinny Helpdesk for assistance. (we have already received 120 requests through this process in just 2 days)
The main difference between the two options is whether you supply the modem (Option 1) or whether we courier directly to the use (Option 2). For both options we need your assistance in responding to initial inquiries and helping users complete the documentation.