In the midst of the coronavirus sweeping the world, most people are attempting to stay safe and healthy by staying home. That also means a major uptick in internet usage from teleworking, online learning, and a lot of streaming. After a request from the government, internet providers like Comcast and Verizon are now banding together to offer people free or discounted Wi-Fi for the next two months.
Devising A Plan
One of the biggest cable and internet providers, Comcast, first stepped up to the plate during this pandemic with the announcement of free public Wi-Fi for 60 days, which went into effect on March 14, 2020. With all of the Xfinity hotspots located around the country, this decision will be helpful for millions. Other service providers like AT&T and Charter Communications are doing the same.
Charter is also offering free broadband for all students from elementary school through college who aren’t already subscribers. Cox has increased speeds on low-cost broadband plans and Sprint is giving its current subscribers unlimited data for the next 60 days. Comcast and AT&T have also temporarily lifted their data caps for customers. In addition, T-Mobile has created a plan to provide unlimited data to its current customers and increase data allowance for schools and students using digital learning programs.
Making The Plea
The companies acted after a plea from U.S. senators asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure that students would have internet access during this time. With schools around the country currently closed (some for the rest of the academic year), students are attempting to learn from home. However, almost 12 million students have been without internet access.
Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and others wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to ask for assistance. “As states temporarily close their schools and move to online instruction to protect the health and safety of students, faculty, and staff, the FCC must take action to expand internet availability and keep Americans informed,” part of the letter read. In addition to these efforts by providers, the FCC also launched the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge,” with groups agreeing not to terminate service to customers unable to pay their internet bills during the coronavirus pandemic.
Combating A Crisis
Across the world, the coronavirus outbreak has become a much wider threat than some expected. The pandemic has now impacted millions of people in a matter of months with over 100,000 people losing their lives from the disease. Those numbers grow by the hour. It has prompted governments to impose major lockdowns and restrictions to try to keep others healthy. Congress is also currently working on a stimulus plan to help U.S. citizens survive as non-essential businesses have been closed. Major events like the 2020 Summer Olympics have even been postponed or canceled.
In the midst of these uncertain times, it’s not only internet providers working to help citizens. Businesses like CVS and Walmart are now hiring thousands of full-time, part-time, and temporary associates through virtual job fairs. This will not only help with the major influx of customers hitting the stores each day for supplies, but can also help those who lost work due to the crisis. Restaurants and hotels, including MGM Resorts International, have donated food to food banks and communities across the country. Other efforts in this time of social distancing come right from people in their own home or backyard with virtual fitness classes, lunches, and more. The coronavirus pandemic is very real and frightening to many, but it has opened up a major opportunity for companies and people to help and uplift others.
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