Telstra has frozen its job cutting program for six months, suspended late payment fees and disconnections, and will hire 1,000 temporary contractors to help counter the economic toll of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The telco giant on Friday said it is also bringing forward $500 million capital expenditure from FY21 to increase its network capacity during the pandemic and help it accelerate the rollout of its 5G network.

Chief executive Andy Penn said Telstra will continue to focus on its productivity program to reduce underlying fixed costs by $2.5 billion annually by the end of FY22 but will not cut jobs for the next six months.

At its first-half results last month Telstra said it had completed 6,900 of the 8,000 net job cuts it flagged in June 2018.

Telstra said small businesses and consumers unable to pay their bills would not be chared late fees or disconnected until at least the end of April, at which point the company wil review further.