As American businesses are forced to shut down because of COVID-19 (the novel coronavirus), customers are anxious about their bill for Internet access. Data caps, an annoyance in the best of times, suddenly can mean paying additional fees if a family sheltering in place goes over their limit.
Think of it: you’re working from home, videoconferencing over Skype or Zoom, while your kids are playing games and chatting with friends. There’s streamed movies to watch in the evenings. Disney+ and Netflix may be in constant rotation, adding to the bandwidth strain. That’s a lot of data!
In response, some ISPs and cellular service providers are providing relief for customers. Some are merely adhering to the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge (PDF), which asks the signees not to terminate a customer’s service for non-payment. Others are removing data caps and lowering bills in response to COVID-19.
And others, as you will see in our list below, are doing nothing at all.
All AT&T home Internet Wireline customers, as well as Fixed Wireless Internet customers, can use unlimited data. AT&T will continue to offer $10/mo Access from AT&T service for qualifying customers. For the next 60 days, AT&T also pledged not to terminate the service of any customer who can’t pay their bill, and will waive the fees associated with late payments. AT&T will keep its public Wi-Fi hotspots open to everyone.
Beyond pledging to be “firm in our resolve to be there for our customers,” CenturyLink has announced no actions in response to the coronavirus.
Consolidated has posted a coronavirus response page that doesn’t go beyond a statement to “focus on ensuring stability of services and network performance for our customers.”
On March 13, Comcast said that it would pause enforcement of its data caps for 60 days, essentially giving all of its customers unlimited data for that period. (Comcast normally gives its Xfinity customers two “grace” months for every 12, allowing them to exceed their data cap without penalty.) New subscribers to Comcast’s $9.95/month Internet Essentials plan will receive two months free, and speeds were increased to 25Mbps down and 3Mbps up.
Comcast is also making its Xfinity WiFi service free for everyone, regardless of whether you’re a Comcast subscriber or not. (Here’s a map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots.)
Cox said on March 16 that it is eliminating data usage overages for the next 60 days. Customers with a 500GB or existing Unlimited plan will receive credits. New subscribers to the Cox Starter Internet plan will be able to sign up without an annual contract and receive 50Mbps download speeds. Cox previously said that it would not terminate service for any residential or small business customers, and would open its Cox WiFi hotspot network to keep the public connected.
Cox is offering free support calls and the first month free to its low-cost…