Sponsored Data

The Sponsored Data initiative allows the public to access key health sector websites via mobile phone without incurring data use charges.

For some New Zealanders, the cost of mobile data can be a barrier to accessing essential health and wellbeing information and digital health services. Those who cannot access information and services are often those with the highest needs.

Sponsored Data (also known as zero-rated data) removes this barrier by providing free access to key health sector websites for anyone using the Spark, Skinny, Vodafone or 2degrees mobile networks. All mobile data charges for content hosted on these websites are automatically charged back to the Ministry of Health.

This ensures Kiwis won’t incur mobile data charges when they need essential information about COVID-19, health information and resources, or access to eligible GP portals. The initiative will be reviewed in June 2021 to determine its renewal period.

How do I access a sponsored website?

If your mobile phone is connected to the Spark, Skinny, Vodafone or 2degrees networks, all you need to do is make sure your mobile data is turned on before you enter the address of the sponsored website into the web browser on your mobile device. 

Sponsored data is available both for pre-pay users and those on monthly plans. However, it is not available if your device is set to global roaming, if you are using a mobile network outside of New Zealand, or if your mobile plan is with Warehouse Mobile, CallPlus, Slingshot, Compass, Black + White, Orcon, M2 or any other provider. 

What data usage is sponsored?

Most content on a Sponsored Data website is free to access from your mobile device if you are connected to the Spark, Skinny, Vodafone or 2degrees networks. However, any externally hosted content available through the website will incur data charges according to your usual terms and conditions.  

All websites included within the Sponsored Data initiative have reviewed their content to minimise the amount of externally hosted content, and to make it clear if clicking a link will take you to another website. For any external content other than video content, this will typically translate to a few cents of usage per visit.

This means you can browse sponsored websites to access core health-related information free of charge, but any YouTube videos or other external content on the website will count as data usage.

Which websites have sponsored data?

The focus of the Sponsored Data initiative is on websites that provide key health information, support your mental health and wellbeing, or allow you to access digital health services.

The Ministry of Health will continue to identify websites that align with health priorities and meet the technical requirements for the initiative.

The following websites have been included within the initiative as at 23 July 2020:

Website Description
www.covid19.govt.nz Government website that brings together everything New Zealanders need to know about COVID-19 and how the government is responding.
www.health.govt.nz Ministry of Health website with a wide range of information to help New Zealanders manage their health
www.healthnavigator.org.nz A digital front door for accessing information about health topics, medicines, healthy living and health services.
www.booksonprescription.co.nz A programme to increase access to high quality health information.
www.depression.org.nz Information and resources to help New Zealanders recognise and understand depression and anxiety.
www.thelowdown.co.nz Information and resources to help young New Zealanders recognise and understand depression or anxiety.
www.choicenotchance.org.nz Support and information for New Zealanders who have a gambling problem or are concerned about someone else’s gambling.
www.managemyhealth.co.nz Portal for accessing digital health services.
www.health365.co.nz Portal for accessing digital health services.
www.allright.org.nz Information and resources to help New Zealanders manage their mental health.
www.mentalhealth.org.nz Mental Health Foundation website with support and information to help New Zealanders manage their mental health.
www.myexperience.health.nz Health Quality and Safety Commission New Zealand site that provides information and resources to New Zealanders.
zerodata.plunket.org.nz Plunket New Zealand site that provides advice and support for the health and wellbeing of tamariki under-five and their whānau.

Will any other websites be included?

The Ministry of Health is working closely with a number of health-related websites with support from Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees to broaden the Sponsored Data initiative so even more key health and wellbeing information and services can be accessed without mobile data charges.

This page will be updated as further websites are added to the Sponsored Data initiative.

How do I get my website included?

To be suitable for inclusion within the Sponsored Data initiative a website should: 

  • provide health-related information
  • deliver one or more of the following (in order of priority):
    • provide information on COVID-19
    • be targeted at lower socio-economic users
    • relate to mental health
    • enable engagement in the health sector to the benefit of the individual
  • meet a number of technical requirements to ensure data can be charged back to the Ministry.

Interested parties should submit a completed Registration of Interest (Word, 33 KB) to the Ministry at digitalhealth@health.govt.nz.

What if my mobile plan is with a different provider?

Currently the program has focussed on establishing the necessary contractual arrangements with the largest telecommunications providers, Spark/Skinny, Vodafone and 2Degrees as they represent 99% of the mobile phone connections in New Zealand.

The Ministry will look at opportunities to expand the number of telecommunications providers.

Sponsored Data pilot

In 2019 Spark, Vodafone and 2degrees worked closely with the Ministry of Health to pilot Sponsored Data as a joint initiative with WellSouth and the Health Promotion Agency. 

Check out the project review report for the pilot: Sponsored Data Pilot: Project review.

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