WASHINGTON—In an effort to ensure that broadband and telephone connections remain available for all Americans during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has developed a Keep Americans Connected Pledge.
The pledge asks that for the next 60 days companies:
- 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; and
- Open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them
Since Pai introduced the pledge, 64 companies have committed to it, including AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Cox Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon. Trade associations ACA Connects, Competitive Carriers of America, CTIA, INCOMPAS, NCTA—The Internet and Television Association, NCTA—The Rural Broadband Association, USTelecom and WISPA have also endorsed the pledge.
“As the coronavirus outbreak spreads and causes a series of disruptions to the economic, educational, medical and civic life of our country, it is imperative that Americans stay connected,” said Pai. “Broadband will enable them to communicate with their loved ones and doctors, telework, ensure their children can engage in remote learning and—importantly—take part in the ‘social distancing’ that will be so critical to limiting the spread of this novel coronavirus. That’s why I’m asking all broadband and telephone service providers to take the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. I don’t want any American consumers experiencing hardships because of the pandemic to lose connectivity.”
In addition to the pledge, Pai asked broadband providers to relax their data cap policies, telephone companies to waive long-distance and overage fees, for that work with schools and libraries to assist with remote learning opportunities and for all network operators to prioritize the connectivity needs of hospitals and healthcare providers.
Pai also commended companies that have taken additional steps to help low-income families and veterans remain connected.
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