With businesses and schools closed and thousands of residents now working from home, we wanted to highlight the way telecommunications companies are supporting the public.
The initiatives from US carriers have come as Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai introduced a new broadband and telecom industry measure on Friday called the "Keep Americans Connected Pledge", designed to rein in any potential abuses from US internet service providers during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.
The pledge, which is for the next 60 days, asks that companies not terminate service for residential or small business customers, waive any late fees incurred due to the economic effects of the virus, and open access to public Wi-Fi hotspots to “any American who needs them.”
AT&T has promised not to terminate the service of any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer because of their inability to pay their bill due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. They will also waive any late payment fees that any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer may incur because of economic hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic. Keep our public Wi-Fi hotspots open for any American who needs them.
For those unable to pay their bill, AT&T asks that customers call 800-288-2020 to see if they are eligible for relief.
Verizon will be holding off an on any late fees and disconnections. The company has decided to not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus. Verizon offers its customers a variety of wireless and home broadband plans, as well as a suite of global IP-network services. Verizon does not have data caps on its Fios home, 5G Home and DSL home broadband services, or on its wireline business broadband services. Most of the company’s wireless customers are on unlimited wireless plans, but customers who are not, are encouraged to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots whenever available. The company is pledging to use the power of connectivity now to help keep the nation’s economy moving forward.
All current subscribers will be provided with unlimited smartphone data. T-Mobile will be offering free international calling for all T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers to level 3 impacted countries. All current customers who have plans with data will have unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days (excluding roaming) as well as an additional 20GB of mobile hotspot / tethering service for the next 60 days.
They have also mentioned they are working with their Lifeline partners to provide customers extra free data up to 5GB of data per month over the next two months. Maybe, most importantly, they are increasing the data allowance for free to schools and students using their EmpowerED digital learning programs to ensure each participant has access to at least 20GB of data per month for the next 60 days.
Sprint said subscribers would have unlimited data for 60 days. If people are unable to pay their Sprint bill because of the coronavirus, late fees will be waived. Customers with metered data plans will receive unlimited data per month for 60 days (a minimum of two bill cycles) at no extra cost. They will also be providing customers with an additional 20GB of mobile hotspot data per month for 60 days (a minimum of two bill cycles) at no extra cost. Customers with mobile hotspot-capable handsets who don’t have mobile hotspot today will now get 20GB as well per month for 60 days (a minimum of two bill cycles) at no extra cost.
In a statement issued Saturday, Bell Canada, which owns CTV News, announced it will waive any additional usage fees for residential internet customers, including Bell Aliant, Bell MTS and Virgin Home Internet services, until the end of April. “Any overage fees will be waived automatically, so customers don’t need to make any changes to their accounts,” the company said.
On Friday, Telus said it would waive additional home internet charges through the end of April, noting that it plans to provide flexible payment options for customers facing financial challenges due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
While Rogers said the majority of its home and business customers already have unlimited data, the company will also waive overage fees on other residential plans due to the public health situation.
"We know how important it is for our customers to stay connected, and we are temporarily removing data usage caps for our customers on limited home internet plans until May 31, 2020, so they can stream, surf and connect without worrying about home internet overages," the company said on its website.