March 13, 2020
Comcast, AT&T and others easing broadband for at-home workers
Broadband companies are making it easier and cheaper to work at home in the COVID-19 era.
Cable giant Comcast said it has increased the speeds and lowered the cost of its entry-level Internet Essentials' low-income internet service, effective Monday, offering 60 days of free service, to qualified low-income households, which is normally $9.95 monthly.
Additionally, Comcast is boosting internet speeds for the service to 25/3 megabits per second, from 15/2 Mbps. "In this way, we will ensure that Internet Essentials customers will be able to use their Internet service for all their increased needs as a result of this health crisis," the company said in a statement.
Meanwhile, to all the home workers worried about data overages from their personal, monthly plans, AT&T said it would suspend them. Going over the cap could result in additional fees of $10 for every 50GB over the limit, as indicated in AT&T's website.
In response, broadband providers Verizon and Frontier noted that they don't have data caps. Verizon's Howard Waterman confirmed to U.S. TODAY that "this is another competitive advantage we offer customers."
Meanwhile, Verizon said that even with the recent increase in telecommuting and online learning, Verizon's networks haven't taken a hit.
"The company has not seen a measurable increase in data usage—despite some businesses, schools and other organizations now asking employees to work remotely and students to take classes online," said Verizon over email. But the company affirmed that its "networks are designed and built to meet future demand, and are ready should demand increase or usage patterns change significantly."
Verizon said it has been closely monitoring network usage in the most impacted areas and will work with and prioritize network demand in assisting the needs of many U.S. hospitals, first responders and government agencies.
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