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Telecom Companies to Aid Internet Customers Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Stephanie Sengwe

In the advent of the coronavirus outbreak, many companies have urged their employees to work from home. While this is a good precautionary measure, customers are expected to be heavily dependent on internet services as they now have to turn to videoconferencing and even distance learning for those with kids in school.

As such, AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, among other internet service providers, have agreed to assist customers who are working at home for their jobs or school because of the virus. For their part, AT&T will suspend all broadband usage caps, Vice’s Motherboard reports. While most AT&T users are already on unlimited data plans, the company is waiving overage fees for those who aren’t.

As part of the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge, other companies such as CenturyLink and T-Mobile have “agreed for the next 60 days that they would not terminate service or assess late fees on customers and businesses that fall behind on their bills. They also agreed to open wi-fi hot spots to any American who needs them,” the Washington Post reports.

Earlier, Motherboard reported that 17 senators issued a letter to the nation’s biggest ISPs, urging the companies to lift their broadband caps and overage fees. “As organizations around the country formulate their responses to the recent outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, we write to discuss the steps that your company is taking to accommodate the unprecedented reliance we will likely see on telepresence services, including telework, online education, telehealth and remote support services,” the senators wrote, according to Motherboard.

“Specifically, we ask that you temporarily suspend broadband caps and associated fees or throttling for all communities affected by COVID-19 and work with public school districts, colleges, and universities to provide free, or at-cost, broadband options for students whose schools close due to COVID-19 who don’t have access at home,” the senators added.

Experts also revealed to Motherboard that broadband caps and overage fees don’t serve any real purpose when it comes to improving service for consumers. Instead, they are”little more than a glorified price hike on uncompetitive markets.”

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