Dozens of internet providers have pledged to relax penalties for missed bills amid economic hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
A reliable internet connection is becoming increasingly more important as more Americans begin to work remotely and stay isolated in their homes.
But such isolation efforts, aimed at curbing the virus's spread, are taking a toll on businesses nationwide, making it harder for some customers to pay their bills on time.
“As the coronavirus outbreak spreads and causes a series of disruptions to the economic, educational, medical, and civic life of our country, it is imperative that Americans stay connected. Broadband will enable them to communicate with their loved ones and doctors, telework, ensure their children can engage in remote learning, and—importantly—take part in the ‘social distancing’ that will be so critical to limiting the spread of this novel coronavirus,” Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement Friday.
As a result, the FCC enacted the "Keep Americans Connected" pledge and encouraged internet providers to agree to the terms of the agreement.
The pledge instructs internet companies not to terminate service or charge late fees to any residential or small business customer that cannot pay internet bills for 60 days.
The agreement also asks providers to open WiFi hotspots to any American who needs them.
The following companies have signed the pledge:
ACIRA – Powered by Farmers Mutual Telephone Company & Federated Telephone, Allstream Business US, AlticeUSA, Antietam Broadband, Atlantic Broadband, AT&T, BBT, BOYCOM Vision, Burlington Telecom, Cable One, Central Arkansas Telephone Cooperative, CenturyLink, Charter, Cincinnati Bell, Citizens Connected, Comcast, Consolidated Communications, Cox Communications, Digital West, East Ascension Telephone Company, Education Networks of America, Emery Telecom, Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative, FirstLight, Frontier, Google Fiber, Grande Communications, Granite Telecommunications, Great Plains Communications, GWI, Hiawatha Broadband, Hill Country, IdeaTek Telcom, Inteliquent, Lafourche Telephone Company, Lakeland Communications, Long Lines Broadband, Mammoth Networks/Visionary Broadband, Mediacom, MetTel, Nex-Tech, Ninestar Connect, Northwest Fiber, Orbitel Communications, Pioneer Communications, Premier Communications, Range Telephone Cooperative, RCN, Reserve Telephone Company, Sacred Wind Communications, Shawnee Communications, Socket Telecom, Sonic, Sprint, Starry, TDS Telecom, TelNet Worldwide, TMobile, TracFone Wireless, Uniti Fiber, US Cellular, Vast Broadband, Verizon, Vyve Broadband Investments, Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom, Wave Broadband, West Telecom Services, Windstream, and ZenFi Networks. And the trade associations ACA Connects, Competitive Carriers of America, CTIA, INCOMPAS, NCTA—The Internet and Television Association, NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association, USTelecom, and WISPA
Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said the FCC would also be working to help schoolchildren and hospitals while also lifting data caps and overage feeds.