Major U.S. Internet Providers Agree Not to Terminate Service for Non-Payment, Lift Some Data Caps
Amid the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in the United States, people are relying heavily on home internet connections for work and school as many employers have asked employees to work from home and schools have canceled classes for the next few weeks.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today said [PDF] that major U.S. internet providers, including Comcast, AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter, Sonic, Cox, Verizon, and more, have all agreed not to terminate service for any residential or small business customers unable to pay their bills due to the coronavirus.
Non-payment will not result in cancelation for the next 60 days, with internet providers also agreeing to waive late fees for payments and open WiFi hotspots to any American who needs them.
Along with the major internet providers, many other smaller internet providers across the United States have also agreed to the terms, which the FCC has called the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. FCC chairman Ajit Pai said that it is "imperative" that Americans stay connected.'
As the coronavirus outbreak spreads and causes a series of disruptions to the economic, educational, medical, and civic life of our country, it is imperative that Americans stay connected. Broadband will enable them to communicate with their loved ones and doctors, telework, ensure their children can engage in remote learning, and--importantly--take part in the 'social distancing' that will be so critical to limiting the spread of this novel coronavirus. That's why I'm asking all broadband and telephone service providers to take the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. I don't want any American consumers experiencing hardships because of the pandemic to lose connectivity.
Some internet providers have also agreed to suspend data caps in states that have them, such as AT&T. AT&T yesterday told Motherboard that it is waiving internet data overages for all customers who do not already have unlimited home internet access.
Comcast has not waived fees for data overages, but it is providing higher connection speeds on its Internet Essentials plan, which is a service for low-income Americans.