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In response to the coronavirus outbreak, which initially put as many as 30 million Americans out of work, FCC officials launched the Keep Americans Connected Pledge in mid-March. The initiative has since helped maintain a line of communication and information for Americans everywhere.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to disrupt the lives of every American throughout the summer months, the FCC extended the Keep Americans Connected Pledge,
through the end of June. But as we near the end of 2020, which internet service providers are still offering customer assistance as the pandemic wears on? Find out below.
What is the Keep Americans Connected Pledge?
The initiative urges internet providers to operate under three guidelines. Per the FCC, internet providers who have taken the pledge agree to:
- Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic
- Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic
- Open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them
Some internet providers have already taken the pledge, while others are doing even more to ensure everyone has access to the internet for updates on the coronavirus pandemic.
Which providers have pledged to Keep Americans Connected?
More than 65 internet providers have taken the pledge, promising not to penalize residential and business customers with late fees or cut connections at a time when they are most needed.
- The largest internet providers, such as AT&T, CenturyLink, Cox, Frontier, Mediacom, Spectrum, Verizon, Xfinity and Kinetic by Windstream have taken the pledge.
- Many smaller regional providers are also committing to do their part: Atlantic Broadband, Cincinnati Bell, Sonic, Wave Broadband and Altice, which includes Suddenlink and Optimum.
- Mobile providers including AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon have also joined the effort.
Select providers going beyond FCC requests with unlimited data and free service
Many internet providers have gone a step further to help ease the financial toll coronavirus has taken on millions of Americans nationwide. Additionally, many providers are now offering contactless or self-install options to promote social distancing.
Here are the most up-to-date provider assistance options as of November 2020:
- AT&T — AT&T is “automatically waiving home internet data overage charges for AT&T internet customers through Dec. 31,” according to AT&T’s COVID-19 response page.
AT&T is also offering “internet access for qualifying limited income households at $10 a month or less through our Access from AT&T program” and “temporarily expanding eligibility of Access from AT&T to households participating in the National School Lunch Program and Head Start.” These options are all currently available through Dec. 31, 2020.
- Xfinity — According to Comcast’s most recent COVID-19 response updates, “eligible new customers can sign up to receive 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service” through the end of 2020. Internet Essentials provides internet up to 25 Mbps at just $9.95/mo. for qualified low-income households.
Also available until Dec. 31, 2020, is free access to public Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots, even for “non-Xfinity internet subscribers.”
- Verizon — Most of Verizon’s initial assistance measures in response to COVID-19 expired on June 30, 2020. However, according to Verizon’s July press release, “new Fios customers who qualify for the low-income Lifeline discount program will receive a $20 per month discount on their home internet service for as long as they remain eligible for the program. New registrations will be accepted for the remainder of 2020.”
- Spectrum — Like Xfinity, Spectrum has made its Wi-Fi hotspots available for all users. Spectrum is still offering free internet to qualifying households with students or teachers (call 866.991.6533 to enroll).
Stay tuned for updates on the efforts your local internet, TV and phone providers are taking to minimize the financial impact coronavirus has on families and businesses nationwide.
Last updated on 11/25/2020.
Written by:David Anders
Senior Writer, Broadband Content
David joined the Allconnect team in 2017, specializing in broadband and TV content. His work has been referenced by a variety of sources, including ArcGIS, DIRECTV and more. As a Senior Writer, David is motivate… Read more
Edited by:Robin Layton
Editor, Broadband & Wireless Content
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