Major internet service providers are following the lead of state governments and ending quarantine benefits. Starting July 1, many Americans will once again be subject to data caps and late fees.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission in March launched the Keep Americans Connected Initiative. The pledge, according to the FCC website, garnered support from more than 800 ISPs and trade associations promising to not terminate service or charge late fees due to disruptions caused by coronavirus. They also agreed to open Wi-Fi hotspots to “any American who needs them.”
Originally set to expire on May 12, the FCC extended its commitment through June 30, 2020. “I’m pleased that the overwhelming majority of companies taking the pledge has agreed to extend that commitment through the end of June and that new companies have joined this effort,” Chairman Ajit Pai said in May. “This will help ensure that Americans can continue to communicate with loved ones, access education, and get healthcare remotely as they practice social distancing.”
But with just one day to go, it seems unlikely the agency will expand the program any further, meaning customers of AT&T, CenturyLink, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and hundreds more local telecoms will soon be back on the hook for all charges. The same may be true of unlimited data, according to PCWorld, which tipped regularly scheduled service for companies like Xfinity, Mediacom, and the big four U.S. providers—none of which immediately responded to PCMag’s request for comment.
The UK’s major broadband providers took a similar approach to COVID-19, lifting data caps during the pandemic to protect vulnerable folks from having to pay additional and unexpected charges; a slew of companies—including BT, O2, Sky, TalkTalk, Three, Virgin Media, and Vodafone—also removed limits on fixed-line broadband.