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ICYMI: Public, Private Sector Push for Internet Access During COVID-19


Washington, DC – As COVID-19 continues, the public and private sectors are taking action to make sure Americans can access vital internet services during this time.

Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched its “Keep Americans Connected” pledge, a 60-day initiative to encourage telecom and broadband companies across the country to:

  • Waive late fees, for customers and small businesses, due to disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Not terminate service to people because of their inability to pay their internet bills; and,
  • Increase internet access open Wi-Fi hotspots.

This pledge comes as many providers have taken steps on their own to ensure that individuals, families, and business owners alike can access the tools they need to go about their daily lives and maintain public health and safety precautions across communities.

Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH) praised these efforts, and “hope to continue this momentum to expand broadband access as Congress takes emergency measures to combat COVID-19).” You can read their full statement, here.

Read more about the steps companies have taken so far in The Verge.

The Verge
AT&T, Comcast, Verizon and others agree not to overcharge customers during coronavirus

By Nick Statt

March 13, 2020

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai introduced a new broadband and telecom industry measure on Friday called the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, which is designed to rein in any potential abuses from US internet service providers during the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

The pledge, which is for the next 60 days, asks that companies not terminate service for residential or small business customers, waive any late fees incurred due to the economic effects of the virus, and open access to public Wi-Fi hotspots to “any American who needs them.”

So far, Pai says that virtually every major company in the US broadband and telecom businesses has committed to the pledge, including AT&T, Charter, CenturyLink, Comcast, Cox, Sonic, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon, among others.

The pledge arrives just a day after AT&T said it would suspend broadband data caps from home internet customers and Comcast said it would be raising internet speeds on its Internet Essentials tier, its broadband planned designed for low-income families. Verizon on Friday said it would be waiving late fees for customers and small businesses, too.

Read the full story here.

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