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?
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, 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.
Please continue to advise people in your community signing up for Jump to contact the Skinny Helpdesk for support if they are having trouble setting up their accounts. It could be a faulty modem. During the last four weeks, we have recorded 74 faulty modems (out of nearly 3000 shipped); this can be frustrating for the customers involved, but can be quickly confirmed by a Helpdesk operator. As soon as a Helpdesk operator identifies a faulty modem, they log it in a shared Google Sheet and we swing into action in shipping a replacement (this will take a few days and depending on local courier delays, could take up to a week).
Some Jump customers have also been frustrated in trying to contact the Skinny Helpdesk over the weekend and end up calling you. The Helpdesk hours are:
8am – 7pm Monday to Friday
9am – 5.30pm on Saturdays
Digital only: 9am – 5.30pm on Sundays and Public Holidays (this means customers will not be able to talk to an operator by phone; they will only be able to use the online chat, which won’t help that much if they are having trouble setting up their modems!)
What an incredible achievement for Jump connections over the last four weeks! With your support, we have together processed 2871 applications since the start of the COVID-19 lockdown on 25 March. 2545 of these have come through our home delivery self-service model and 326 have been delivered directly by 48 partners, using a range of innovative contact-less delivery methods. We applaud all 169 Jump partners who are accepting inquiries from their communities and assisting applicants complete the online application form. We know that these people often call you back when they receive their modems to get over-the-phone help in setting them up. We appreciate it if can provide this help but do encourage people to contact the Skinny Helpdesk on 0800 475 4669 if there are issues you can’t easily deal with. This is especially important if it looks like the modem might be faulty, as the Skinny Helpdesk must log this, de-link the modem from the user’s Skinny account and send us (DIAA) a request to issue a replacement modem.
So, well done in helping nearly 3000 new households connect to internet in just one month. Before COVID, we celebrated a successful month when we signed up 300 families in a month. So while most of the world has been shut for the last four weeks, you have demonstrated that not only are you open for business, but that you responded to the shut-down challenge by expanding Jump deliveries ten-fold. Thank you! And of course a special thank-you to the team at the Spark Foundation and Skinny who have made this possible with such a fantastic internet connectivity product.
A quick look at the summary statistics about the people who have benefited from a Jump connection over the last month clearly demonstrates that we are supporting the groups who have been identified as being among the most digitally excluded:
The Spark Foundation and Skinny have announced a 6GB daily data boost for all 6000+ Jump customers that will take effect on 15 April 2020. The data boost will apply between 9am and 3.30pm on every weekday. While this is mainly intended for families with school-aged children, many of whom will be relying on a home internet connection when Term 2 commences on 15 April, the expanded eligibility criteria announced on 25 March means that everyone who has signed up for Jump during the last two to three weeks will also benefit (and of course who signs up over the coming weeks).