Britain's mobile networks are to offer free access to online NHS pages about the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, the UK government has declared.
"Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three are among the mobile firms that have said they will give their customers free online access to the latest NHS health information about coronavirus," said the Department of Health and Social Care earlier.
Normally, mobile customers use up their data allowances or pay as they go accordingly when using mobile data allowances to access websites from their phones and fondleslabs. Mobile networks are now zero-rating access to the following NHS domains:
The move is a sensible and proportionate response to the coronoavirus pandemic. It means mobile phone users won't burn up data allowances or topped-up credit while reading health advice about COVID-19.
Matt Hancock, health secretary, said in a statement: "We have been clear this must be a national effort and so I'm delighted that mobile companies will be offering free data to browse nhs.uk. This will ensure everyone can access the guidance they need and avoid dangerous misinformation, without incurring data charges, and is an important contribution to the next stage of our plan to delay the spread of the virus."
Britain is currently scrutinising the government's emergency Coronavirus Bill, published this afternoon.
Zero-rating of selected websites by mobe networks, in days gone by when there wasn't a lethal pandemic sweeping the globe, used to be a real bone of contention. In the US a heated debate raged over net neutrality, driven by fears that mobile operators would become de facto arbiters of which websites society's less well off were able to read.
Back in 2016 Virgin Media zero-rated Facebook and Whatsapp, which wasn't an entirely popular move. ®