CALIFORNIA, USA — Coronavirus concerns have forced businesses to close, classes to go digital, and some workers to tele-commute.
In response, internet providers are stepping up to make sure everyone stays connected.
“During this extraordinary time, it is vital that as many Americans as possible stay connected to the internet – for education, work, and personal health reasons,” Dave Watson, Comcast Cable Chief Executive Officer, said. “Our employees also live and work in virtually every community we serve, and we all share the same belief that it’s our Company’s responsibility to step up and help out.”
AT&T, Comcast, Charter Communications, and Verizon are among many providers opening up their services to help ease people's burdens during the coronavirus pandemic.
Many companies took the FCC's "Keep Americans Connected Pledge" which asks them 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.
For the next 60 days, AT&T will not terminate service for any wireless, home phone, or broadband residential or small bus customer due to inability to pay.
They will also do the following:
- Waive late payment fees.
- Keep their public Wi-Fi hotspots open for any one who needs them.
- The service will also be offering unlimited internet data and offer internet access for limited income households at $10 a month through the Access from AT&T program.
For more details, click HERE.
The company is opening their Xfinity WiFi network for free along with providing unlimited data. To help people stay connected with school and work, Comcast is opening up their Xfinity WiFi network for everyone, as well as:
- Hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free, including non-subscribers. You can find a map of hot spots here. Just use “xfinitywifi” network name and launch a browser.
- Data plans will be paused for 60 days, which will give all customers unlimited data for no additional charge.
- No late disconnects or late fees for those who contact the company about not being able to pay their bill.
- Internet Essentials, their broadband adoption program, is free to new customers
For more information click HERE.
Verizon Free WiFi
Verizon also took the pledge and is offering similar services:
- The company will not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus.
- Waiving late fees for those impacted by COVID-19
- Tripling data allowance for Verizon Innovative Learning schools
Charter Spectrum Free WiFi
Charter is offering similar services during the coronavirus pandemic. As of March 16, the company will offer:
- Free spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 or college students who don't have a Spectrum broadband subscription. Call 1-844-488-8395 to enroll. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.
- Open WiFi hotspots
Sprint has joined the Keep Americans Connected Pledge and is opening up their network to their customers and:
- Won’t terminate service if customers are unable to pay due to coronavirus issues
- Waive late fees caused by economic disturbances related to the coronavirus pandemic
- By 3/17: Customers with international long-distance plans will get complimentary international calling rates from the U.S. to countries defined by the CDC as Level 3.
- By 3/19: Customers with metered data plans will have unlimited data per month for 60 days at no extra cost
- Customers will get an extra 20GB of mobile hotspot data per month for 60 days.
- Coming soon: Customers with mobile hotspot-capable handsets without a hotspot will get 20GB per month for 60 days at no extra cost.
The wireless provider already has a majority of customers with unlimited talk, text, and data, but they’re doubling down on their effort to keep their customers connected.
- All current T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers who have data plans will have unlimited smartphone data, excluding roaming.
- T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers will get an additional 20GB of mobile hotspots/tethering service for the next 60 days. The company says this feature will be coming soon.
- Work with Lifeline partners to get customers extra free data up to 5GB per month over the next two months
- Increase data allowance for free to schools and students for the next 60 days, which means at least 20GB of data per month for each participant
According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.
Currently, there is no vaccine, however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
The CDC also says facemasks should only be used by people who show symptoms of the virus. If you’re not sick, you do not have to wear a facemask. The CDC says the immediate risk to the U.S. public is low.
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