PHILADELPHIA —A number of internet service providers and broadband providers, including Comcast and Cox Media Group, have announced plans to help ensure connectivity for users during the coronavirus pandemic that is keeping many people home.
Comcast’s plan is offering new, low-income Internet Essentials customers two months of free internet and increased speed, as well as making Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots across the U.S. free for use by anyone, including non-Xfinity internet subscribers. In addition, Comcast is pausing its data plans so that all customers can use unlimited data for no additional charge, while also eliminating the threat of disconnect or late fees to customers who contact Comcast about difficulty paying bills during this period; flexible payment options will be available. Other resources will include educational collections accessible for X1 customers by saying “education” into an X1 or Flex voice remote, and 24/7 network support.
All of these services will be offered for the next 60 days.
Cox, meanwhile, has announced it has activated its Business Continuity Plan designed for pandemic situations. This will ensure the continuation of services and establish ongoing communications as circumstances evolve, says Cox. Cox also says it has available gig speeds to help people who now may be working from home, as well as a low-income broadband program. It will also explore ways to expand initiatives as a result of school closings.
Other ISPs and broadband providers have been adapting their offerings to meet needs amid the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, AT&T last week signed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge and is offering video-conferencing and conference call services to businesses and schools.
Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) has also praised the efforts of ISPs for ensuring broadband connections.
“The coronavirus outbreak is already creating an unprecedented need for teleworking, telehealth and online education technology,” said Warner. “I’m glad to see certain companies quickly responding to our letter and putting a pause on restrictive caps, fees and other policies that could interfere with online access during this critical time. I’m also pleased to see companies committing to expanding broadband access for students who may not have it so that their educations are not completely disrupted during school closures. I call on those internet providers that have not taken similar steps to do so immediately, in order to assist their fellow Americans during this time of great national strain.”
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