Comcast, Charter, Verizon, and dozens of other internet and phone providers have signed an FCC pledge to 'keep Americans connected' even if they can't pay during disruptions caused by coronavirus

Chip Somodevilla/Getty ImagesFederal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai arrives for his confirmation hearing for a second term as chair of the commission before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill July 19, 2017 in Washington, DC.
  • Internet service providers and telecom companies are participating in an FCC pledge to “keep Americans connected” to the internet during disruptions caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • The pledge asks companies to keep internet online for customers who can’t pay their internet bills, as well as waive late billing fees, as a result of the disruptions caused by the virus.
  • Much of the disruptions come from shifting work and study to homes, where internet connectivity may not be as strong as those at offices and schools.
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The FCC has issued a pledge on Friday for internet and telecommunications companies to “keep Americans connected” during the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The pledge means that for the next 60 days, a participating internet service provider should:

  • 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.

Dozens of telecoms companies have endorsed the pledge already, including numerous regional companies, as well as larger entities like Charter, Comcast, Google, Sprint, and Verizon. You can see a full list of those companies that have endorsed the pledge here, although it’s unclear if this list will be updated as more companies participate.

Some companies have also separately taken action to make it easier to stay connected online. On Thursday, AT&T lifted its overage fees for customers on internet plans with data caps. Also on Thursday, Comcast announced that it’s offering its $US10-a-month Essentials internet service designed for low-income households for free for 60 days. It’s also increasing the speeds of its Essential internet service.

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