To help their customers in light of the coronavirus pandemic, many companies are changing the way they do business by offering relief to people who need internet access.
Many of the carriers' efforts are a response to the Keep Americans Connected Pledge issued by the Federal Communications Commission, which is asking companies to aid their customers.
So what are cell phone companies doing? Let’s look at the details of what some carriers are offering:
AT&T says it will support customers for the next 60 days by waiving fees on late payments and not terminating service for those who can't pay their bill due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Here are the details of AT&T’s measures:
- The company will keep services on for the following delinquent customers: wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business
- AT&T will waive late payment fees for the following customers: wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business
- The company will also keep its public Wi-Fi hotspots open for all
- For the next 60 days, Sprint says it is waiving late fees for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic
- Keep services on for those who are late paying their bill
- Give free international calling rates to U.S. customers calling countries defined by the CDC as Level 3.
- Customers without unlimited plans will get 60 days of unlimited data (a minimum of two bill cycles) for free
- Customers will also get an extra 20GB of mobile hotspot data per month for 60 days (a minimum of two bill cycles) for free
T-Mobile announced that it is giving more data to its customers. Since many of T-Mobile's customers already have unlimited data plans, here's more of what the company is offering:
- An expanded network capacity boosted by 600 MHz of spectrum (frequency capacity) for the next 60 days
- More roaming access for Sprint customers on T-Mobile's network
- An extra 20GB of hotspot for all T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers for the next two months. The company says this is "coming soon"
- An additional 5GB of free data per month over the next 60 days for its Lifeline partners
- More data for schools using its EmpowerED digital learning programs. The goal is for each user to have at least 20GB of data per month for the next 60 days
- Giving away $500,000 to Feeding America through its T-Mobile Tuesdays app
Verizon is helping customers impacted by the pandemic by rolling out several goodwill initiatives, including:
- Waiving late fees for those affected by COVID-19, including residential and small business accounts
- Tripling its monthly data allowance for its Verizon Innovative Learning schools
- Committing $10 million to nonprofits directed at supporting students and first responders
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Comcast is improving its basic service — Internet Essentials — and offering it for free to new customers who qualify.
Here are the details:
- Two months of complimentary Internet Essentials service available to new low-income customers who are eligible for public assistance programs like free lunch, housing assistance, Medicaid, SNAP, SSI and others
- Speeds that will increase from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps for new and existing customers
- No credit check, shipping fee or term contract for the service
Comcast says after the complimentary 60 days are up, new Internet Essentials customers can either cancel the service or keep it at its regular price of $9.95 a month. Read more about it here.
Charter Communications is offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi to households with kids in grades K-12 and college students for 60 days.
To get the deal, you can’t already have Spectrum broadband service at any level up to 100 Mbps. The company says they will also waive installation fees. Spectrum says it will also:
- Open its Wi-Fi hotspots for public use
- Partner with school districts to make them aware of these services
See more of the companies making changes in light of coronavirus on the FCC's list here.
Worried about your wallet? See how you can limit the coronavirus pandemic’s effect on your finances.