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It’s common to make New Year’s resolutions, but let’s face it, we’ve all been through enough in 2020. So this year, we’re giving ourselves a break from a personal to-do list and focusing our attention somewhere else.
Let’s take a look at the top internet service providers and decide where they can improve. From what was promised in 2020 to what we can look forward to in 2021, here is our list of New Year’s resolutions for internet service providers (ISPs).
2020: A quick lookback
We’ve got to give a quick round of applause to most ISPs in 2020. With the onset of COVID-19 in the first quarter of 2020, many major providers (from AT&T to Verizon to Xfinity) quickly pivoted to protect the safety of their customers and staff, as well as keep their customers connected to the internet. From March to June, many internet providers enacted policies such as:
- Not charging late fees
- Not disconnecting service
- Discounts for first-providers, students and teachers
- Upping speeds
- Opening Wi-Fi hotspots to the public
See the updated Keep Americans Connected policies
Some providers’ initial offerings expired in the summer, but a few ISPs have extended their COVID-19 assistance until the end of 2020. Check out which providers and policies are still in place to Keep Americans Connected.
New Year’s resolutions for 2021 – Our wish list
Even though many ISPs were more customer-focused in 2020, there’s still room for improvement. Looking forward to 2021, we’ve put together our ultimate, top-five wish list for internet companies’ resolutions.
Here, we imagined what it might look like if an internet provider wrote these resolutions themselves.
An internet service provider’s New Year’s resolutions
- This year, I will continue with policies that protect the safety needs of the customer.
- I will provide adequate internet access for every school-age child and expand opportunities for remote learners (and teachers) of all ages.
- Providing more transparency around promotional rates, early termination fees and other hidden fees will be a priority for me.
- Instead of low-pricing bait-and-switch, I will offer longer promotional periods, or just overall cheaper internet.
- Building out infrastructure to provide more coverage for rural areas will take precedence on my to-do list.
What companies are promising for 2021
Aside from our wish list, what are internet service providers outlining as their personal touchpoints for the upcoming year? Several major ISPs have shared their roadmaps for 2021 and beyond.
AT&T’s Connect to Good initiative
AT&T outlines its goals as “improving the daily lives of our customers, suppliers and employees, transforming the way we and our customers care for our world and amplifying the combined strengths of our company and our communities to tackle broad challenges,” according to its AT&T Roadmap to 2025.
This 10-year plan, which began in 2015, states specific measurable goals such as:
- Expanding its fiber access to 12.5 million locations by mid-2019.
- Offering “discounted wireline broadband service where technically available within AT&T’s 21-state wireline footprint to low-income households” for a “four-year period beginning in 2016.”
- Collecting “more than 20 million devices for reuse, refurbishment or recycling by end-of-year 2020.”
T-Mobile’s Energy Efficient Network and continued COVID-19 response
T-Mobile’s 2021 plans include a strong emphasis on sustainability and renewable energy. T-Mobile has already joined up with the RE100 initiative “to use 100% renewable energy by 2021.” Plus, according to T-Mobile’s sustainability profile, the company is targeting a “95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions” for all T-Mobile facilities, which includes their “offices, retail stores, data centers, call centers and network operations.”
In regard to T-Mobile’s COVID-19 assistance, if you are experiencing difficulties paying your bill, “you can set up a payment arrangement online, or dial 611 from your T-Mobile device to speak to your Team of Experts to find the best solution for you.”
Spectrum doubling internet speeds for over eight million subscribers
Millions of Spectrum customers will get the gift of faster internet in early 2021, doubling their speed from 100 Mbps to 200 Mbps. Spectrum will “automatically increase speeds for current residential customers with new Spectrum Internet packages in these markets during the first quarter of 2021,” according to a recent Charter press release.
Markets that are part of the speed increase include Albany, NY; Beaumont, TX; Chattanooga, TN; Cheyenne, WY; Columbia, MO; Lexington, KY; Orlando, FL; Palm Springs, CA; and Rochester, MN.
The Verizon Innovative Learning plan
Verizon is focusing on “bringing 5G technology to schools” with a goal to “deploy it in 100 schools by the end of 2021,” according to its Innovative Learning site.
Plus, Verizon is doing its part to reduce the homework gap: “Since 2012, the Verizon Innovative Learning program has provided over $535M in market value towards STEM education helping under-resourced communities bridge the digital divide.”
Xfinity data cap announcement
Unfortunately, not all providers are moving in the right direction when it comes to meeting the needs of its customers. In a recent announcement, Xfinity has decided to hit more customers with a data cap, even as millions of people are still working and going to school from home due to the pandemic.
On top of that, “Comcast is raising prices for cable TV and Internet service on January 1, 2021, with price hikes coming both to standard monthly rates and to hidden fees that aren’t included in advertised prices,” according to Ars Technica.
Did you know? The Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019, which went into effect on June 20, 2020, is a win towards transparency in pricing. It requires cable and satellite TV providers to disclose your total price, including all taxes and fees, when you sign up for service. It also gives customers 24 hours to cancel without penalty. And the act forbids providers from charging for unused equipment, such as charging a gateway rental fee even if you are using your own equipment.
Our take on internet providers’ future plans
Look on nearly any internet provider’s “about us” page and you will find press releases touting how the company is benefiting the community. However, “studies show that about 60% of us make New Year’s resolutions each year — sadly, only about 8% of us achieve them,” according to Inc.
So, what’s the difference between meeting and abandoning your goals? Making sure your objectives follow the S.M.A.R.T. formula. That is, setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. For example, both AT&T and Verizon do a good job of setting specific and measurable goals. Here’s hoping that these providers can stick to their resolutions better than the rest of us can!
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Written by:Lisa Iscrupe
Writer, Broadband & Data Content
Lisa uses years of experience in sales and customer service for internet-TV providers to inform her writing on broadband. Her work has been referenced by CNN and other national sources. In Lisa’s Words: Ever… Read more
Edited by:Shannon Ullman
Editor, Broadband & Wireless Content
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