In response to COVID-19 pandemic, internet providers cancel late fees and offer lower costs

Coronavirus
Leanne Francis, first grade teacher at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, conducts an online class from her living room on March 20, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Leanne Francis, first grade teacher at Harvey Milk Civil Rights Academy, conducts an online class from her living room on March 20, 2020 in San Francisco, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

As 40 million Californians transition their lifestyles to stay at home in order to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, access to the internet has become more essential than ever.

Schools across the state have closed, with some transitioning to online instruction, and many jobs have moved to working remotely — all of which require internet access.

The European Union asked Netflix and other streaming platforms Thursday to stop showing video in high definition to prevent the internet from breaking.

On March 12, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia sent a letter to the CEOs of eight major internet companies, calling on them to “accommodate the unprecedented reliance we will likely see on telepresence services, including telework, online education, telehealth, and remote support services.”

The California Emerging Technology Fund has provided access to affordable offers, and parents can call 844-841-4636 for assistance. The California Department of Education also shared information about available plans.

Various providers have made adjustments to their services, including AT&T, Comcast/Xfinity, Cox, Spectrum/Charter, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.

Here’s what you need to know:

AT&T

AT&T is not terminating service regardless of ability to pay and is waiving late payment fees for those unable to pay. The company is also keeping public Wi-Fi hotspots open for those who need them. The AT&T Access program provides low-cost wireline home Internet service to qualifying households. To learn more, visit the company website.

Comcast/Xfinity

New customers who sign up for the provider’s Internet Essential service will receive two months of free internet, increased speeds and 40 hours of Wi-Fi hotspots per month. Comcast/Xfinity will not disconnect services or charge late fees and will give all customers unlimited data for 60 days. Stay updated by visiting the company’s website.

Cox

New customers will receive one month of service for free, with no term commitment, no deposit and no installation fee. The offer is available until May 12. Read more about the deal here.

Spectrum/Charter

Charter Communications, Spectrum’s parent company, announced Friday that it will make its services free for 60 days to households with K-12 learners or college students who don’t already have internet through the company. Optional in-home Wi-Fi service is also available for $5 per month. Learn more at the company’s website.

Sprint

For the next 2 months, Sprint will not disconnect services or charge late fees. They will offer free international calling from the U.S. to countries deemed Level 3 by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. People with metered data plans will received unlimited data for 60 days. Read about the terms here.

T-Mobile

Current T-Mobile customers will get unlimited smartphone data, not including roaming services. They’ll also get 20GB of mobile hotspot services and free extra data up to 5GB per month. T-Mobile will increase the data allowances for schools and students who use EmpowerEd digital learning programs. Read more about the policies here.

Verizon

Verizon will waive late fees for customers experiencing hardship because of COVID-19 for 60 days and will not terminate service for those impacted by the virus. Learn more here.

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