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March 17, 2020

Broadband Industry Reacts to COVID-19 Through FCC Pledge

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic has created unprecedented developments across the globe and the broadband industry is not immune. Service providers are reacting in a variety of ways, including temporarily providing free service to households with students.

The pandemic moved FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to issue the “Keep Americans Connected” Pledge, in an effort to ensure uninterrupted broadband access during this trying time. The goal is to keep the millions of students and Americans now forced to work or study from home connected to the internet with good broadband service.

Specifically, the pledge asks service providers to commit to following three key policies:

  • Not terminating 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
  • Waiving any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
  • Open Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them

The FCC announced on March 16, 2020 that 116 more broadband and telephone service providers have agreed to the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, which launched on Friday March 13th. Sixty-nine service providers had already agreed to the pledge, and as of March 16th, 185 service providers have now agreed.

“It’s critical that Americans stay connected throughout the coronavirus pandemic so that they can remain in touch with loved ones, telework, engage in remote learning, participate in telehealth, and maintain the social distancing that is so important to combatting the spread of the virus,” said Chairman Pai. “The Keep Americans Connected Pledge is a critical step toward accomplishing that goal, and I thank each one of these additional companies that have made commitments to ensure that Americans can remain connected as a result of these exceptional circumstances.”

A list of participating providers can be found here.