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Press Release

Walden Calls on Providers to Offer More Data for Mobile Hotspots During COVID-19


03.24.20

Washington, DC – Energy and Commerce Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) applauds wireless service providers for waiving wireless voice and data overage fees and encourages all providers temporarily make as much data available as possible, as quick as possible, to existing devices so families can access mobile broadband at home immediately during this crisis period.

“During this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, Americans are wisely staying at home as much as possible. However, more than 21 million Americans do not have access to standard broadband services, and others are facing fees and data limits as they rely more on their at-home technologies for work, learning, healthcare and entertainment,” Walden said. “I am pleased to see the adjustments wireless providers have already done on a voluntary basis, such as expanding Lifeline low-income access, making new network investments, and sharing of spectrum. This is an unprecedented time, and wireless providers have already stepped up to the plate in a big way.”

“But more can be done. Increasing data caps for hotspots is the fastest way to connect Americans temporarily who do not have Wi-Fi at home. However, while this temporary action can fill the gap during this crisis, it could cause network congestion in the long-term if everyone were to rely on this access. We must not lose sight of the bigger problem: the need to deploy broadband in the long-term. The broadband divide has never come more clearly into focus than now where states, including Oregon, are saying online school work won’t count in part because not all students have access to broadband.  Whether it’s our kids keeping up with school in the virtual classroom or workers staying on track remotely, we all know there’s more work ahead, and this action will have immediate impact.  We’re in it together; let’s get this done.”

Background:

AT&T announced they will waive wireless voice and data overage fees for customers.

Sprint announced it would not terminate service for residential and small business customers from not paying bills

T-Mobile is giving unlimited data to customers to help with COVID-19

U.S. Cellular was granted permission by the FCC to borrow spectrum to boost mobile network capacity

Verizon is taking actions such as making sure hospitals and first responders can stay connected, and waiving activation fees on new lines of service

Nearly 400 providers have joined the Federal Communications Commission’s pledge to “Keep Americans Connected.”

Additional COVID-19 Resources:

E&C Republicans COVID-19 page

CDC COVID-19 website

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

E&C GOP Leaders Praise Efforts to Bridge Digital Divide as COVID-19 Continues

Press Release