Herotel will continue providing services during the lockdown

 

In these unprecedented times, government has called upon the telecommunication industry to provide critical connectivity services during the lockdown. Our mandate is to provide connectivity so that South Africans can work from home, access the news and other essential services. We will heed this call and continue to offer our services.

We have already received a lot of questions from our customers and the public at large, please see below some of the more common questions and our answers to them

 

Why do I see your vehicles and staff driving around during the lockdown?

In these unprecedented times, the government has called upon the telecommunication industry to provide critical connectivity services during the national lockdown.

The Government Gazette instructs our industry to remain operational for both network maintenance and new installations to support both essential services and the economy.

Our mandate is to provide connectivity so that South Africans can work from home, have access to information and other services. We have heeded this call and will continue to offer our services, maintain our networks and connect people.

 

On what legal basis are you operating during this lockdown?

Herotel Telecoms (PTY) LTD and all its subsidiaries have been mandated to provide essential telecommunications services during the lockdown, in accordance with Government Gazette No. 43148, Disaster Act (57/2002) regulations made in terms of section 27(2) by the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

 

What Internet services will you be able to provide during the lockdown?

We will be able to offer most of our services during the lockdown, including helpdesk support, upgrades, new installations and critical maintenance.

All client-facing interactions are governed by a new set of COVID-19 policies focused on increased awareness and hygiene measures, designed to ensure the safety of both our staff and customers.

 

Can you do installations at my home/business during the lockdown?

Yes, we are able to do new installations at your home or business, subject to a revised set of health and safety procedures.

All client-facing interactions are governed by a new set of COVID-19 policies focused on increased awareness and hygiene measures, designed to ensure the safety of both our staff and customers.

If you are in a security complex, please get special permission or check with your HOA before scheduling the installation.

If you are denied permission, please inform them that connectivity has been deemed an essential service in accordance with Government Gazette No. 43148, Disaster Act (57/2002): regulations made in terms of section 27(2) by the minister of Cooperative Governance and

Traditional Affairs (‘’The Regulations’’) and cannot be denied to any South African during the lockdown.

 

Can you remotely upgrade my Internet package during the lockdown?

Yes, in certain circumstances, existing clients can have their package speed and/or data allowance increased, without our team having to physically visit your home or business. This will be subject to the ability of our networks to handle the vastly increased network load in these unprecedented times.

If a hardware upgrade is required for the package increase, then a physical site visit will need to be arranged.

All client-facing interactions are governed by a new set of COVID-19 policies focused on increased awareness and hygiene measures, designed to ensure the safety of both our staff and customers.

 

How will you keep my family and your installation team safe during an installation and/or critical call-out at my home or business?

To keep your family and our staff members safe we have developed a COVID-19 Technician and Scheduler Protocol, which outlines certain clear steps to keep one another safe while minimising the potential spread of the virus.

Here are the basic steps:

1. Pre-installation Communications
o We assess the safety of the working environment before committing to the installation
o We email the full list of Installation/Call-out protocols to the customer, so that they are fully aware of the process before both parties commit to the physical site visit
o The customer must confirm, in writing, that to the best of the customer’s knowledge conditions at the site are safe and must declare any health-related challenges at the premises. Herotel will supply a checklist to the customer ahead of the installation to confirm these facts.

o If the customer resides in a security estate, then written permission is required from the HOA’s. This permission cannot be denied in accordance with Government Gazette No. 43148, Disaster Act (57/2002) regulations made in terms of section 27(2) by the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, which mandates connectivity as an essential service during the lockdown which cannot be denied to any South African. However, some HOA’s are not adhering to these regulations, hence the requirement of approval in writing, in advance.

2. Pre-installation Inspection

o On arrival at the site, we will ensure that the health conditions have not changed since the scheduling of the installation
o The technician will make sure that the work can be completed, without the customer and technician having to share the same physical space while they are conducting the installation process.

3. Installation
o The technician will ensure that the job is completed as quickly and safely as possible. We will pre-configure as much as possible beforehand, in order to spend as little time as possible inside your premises
o Technicians must park their vehicle outside in the street and disinfect their hands, gloves, shoes, equipment (ladders, drill) and phones before entering the premises
o Technicians will not shake hands with the customer. We will greet each other at a safe distance (at least 1-2 meters apart).
o All technicians will be equipped with various surfaced is infectants and hand sanitisers that must be used during the installation to keep surfaces clean.
o When working in a 2-man team, we will allow one technician to focus on the job at hand, while the other focuses on managing the environment, sanitising surfaces where their partner needs to work next. We will touch as little of your surfaces as possible during the installation.

o Our technicians will only do a very basic installation to limit the time and movement at the premises. Should a customer require a more thorough or comprehensive installation, a charged-for call-out can be scheduled at a time that the lock-down is no longer in force.

Any customer that is found to have supplied misleading information must be reported to the authorities in line with Government Gazette No. 43148, Disaster Act (57/2002): regulations made in terms of section 27(2) by the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional affairs. Herotel will reserve the right to terminate any installation if it is deemed to be unsafe.

 

How will I identify your employees arriving at my front door?

All Herotel and subsidiary staff will carry an ID Tag, their ID document, a valid Essential Services Work Permit and their vehicles will be clearly marked, with an Essential Services sticker, in the front window.

Customers should also where possible confirm that the technician knows the job-number to ensure that no-one poses as one of our staff.

8. Did your staff receive adequate health & safety training?

Yes, our installation staff have all been trained, carry the necessary health and safety equipment and are governed by our Covid-19 Technician and Scheduler Protocol.

 

Can you refuse to do an install or call out during the lockdown?

Yes.

If a customer cannot confirm, in writing, that the conditions at the installation site are safe then we may decline to do an installation. This assessment is at the sole discretion of our scheduling team.

If we arrive at the site and find that the conditions are unsafe, we reserve the right to terminate the installation. This assessment is at the sole discretion of our team on site.

Any customer that is found to have supplied misleading information must be reported to the authorities, in line with Government Gazette No. 43148, Disaster Act (57/2002): regulations made in terms of section 27(2) by the minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional affairs.

 

Will the quality of my internet be affected by the lockdown?

Despite our best intentions and the large investment that we have made into our network, the likelihood of network congestion and service degradation is high.

As governments increasingly lock down their citizens and restrict their movement, there is an unprecedented and unplanned surge in daytime internet traffic around the world.

During a lockdown much of the traditional office internet load has moved to a customer’s home connection as they start working from there. At the same time the traditional internet traffic that enables our evening family entertainment has moved to earlier in the day.

These two uses are now competing for the same internet pipe, at the same time. More data is being pulled down the pipe, all at the same time.

Another factor that may cause further degradation in service is the quality / setup of existing home Wi-Fi routers and the balance of the internal network (LAN). Most home users have bought a Wi-Fi router that was appropriate for their traditional home browsing needs. With a dramatic increase in the number of concurrently connected devices many home customers will find that their current router set up can no longer do its originally intended job. Internal home networks that were performing just fine a few weeks ago may now need to deal with being hammered by an increase in internet traffic. Many of these home routers don’t have the horsepower to handle this increased demand, no matter how many bars of Wi-Fi signal your phone or tablet might be showing.

This is not specifically a South African problem, or a Herotel issue. The web is littered with articles from around the world showing how the unforeseen increase and concentration of internet traffic patterns has plunged worldwide networks into turmoil. A recent Tech Crunch article shows that major US cities have seen network degradation in excess of 40% a few days after local lockdowns.

We are continually monitoring and managing the networks to the best of our ability to ensure that it stays healthy and that we are delivering on our services. We have been mandated by our government to do what we can to keep our customers connected, while adding additional customers to this essential service. A delicate balancing act that we have our full team concentrating on.

In the interim, please know that we are doing everything in our power to limit the impact of these unprecedented times on your specific service.

We strongly urge all our customers to use internet access prudently so that all our customers can continue to experience the best possible service.

 

Will you intentionally reduce my internet speed during the lockdown to manage the network congestion?

We have no current plans to do this, but it is a possibility in the future. We will continue to assess the health of the entire network and will do everything we can to avoid this situation. If we must go to these extraordinary measures, we will inform you.

Any degradation in current service, is as a result of network congestion and not because we have intentionally throttled your service with us.

Those packages with a Fair Use Policy (FUP) will continue to operate as per the advertised product specifications.

 

Will you intentionally reduce my internet data allocation during the lockdown to manage network congestion?

We have no intention to reduce the amount of data that you are entitled to on your specific service.

Any degradation in current service, is as a result of network congestion and not because we have intentionally amended any data policy.

Those packages with a Fair Use Policy (FUP) will continue to operate as per the advertised product specifications.

 

Will your helpdesk be operational during the lockdown?

Yes, our helpdesk will be fully operational during the lockdown and can be reached on the usual channels.

Due to the exceptionally high levels of internet traffic being experienced at present, our help desks are being flooded with customer queries.

We ask you to bear with us during this time. We would like to concentrate on the isolated incidents where there are network outages (the connection is lost) and to the tickets where the service has degraded so far, that it is unusable as an essential service.

We understand that you need your service now more than ever to work from home or to entertain your families during the lockdown. We are doing whatever we can to make that a reality.

Please think twice before compounding the backlog in service calls, if the service is slower than usual, but palatable, we ask you not to log a ticket.

If this persists beyond what is reasonable, we would however like to know about it.

 

Why are you not offering more data or increased speeds during the lockdown, like some South African service providers are?

We are aware that some service providers are marketing increased line speeds and data caps during this time. We cannot comment on how they are planning to keep these promises, but we can only speak for ourselves and our own network. We are watching the worldwide trends in network performance during other geographic lockdowns and are planning for these worst-case scenarios.

As an essential services provider we have a mandate to protect the health of our network. With unprecedented increases in daytime internet traffic over the last two weeks, we are unable to offer a blanket increase in speeds and / or data to all our customers, as it would compromise the network at large.

We are concentrating on trying to deliver on our existing promises.
Certain areas of our network can handle package increases, please talk to us.

 

Can I downgrade my service during the lockdown?

Yes, downgrades are permitted during this period and can be discussed with any one of our sales agents to help guide you through the steps.

Our usual downgrade policies apply.

 

Will your branches be open for walk-ins?

Most of our walk-in offices are closed and all non-critical staff will be working remotely.

To support the government’s social distances efforts we urge you to contact us on our normal channels. Our support teams remain fully operational, and we can offer new installations where network capacity exists and the health and safety of our staff and customers can be guaranteed.