Comcast is extending its COVID-19 support programs through June 30th, 2021, including free access to public Wi-Fi hotspots and discounts on internet service plans. The company says this is the third time it has extended its programs during the pandemic.
Comcast’s Internet Essentials plan for low-income households is currently free for the first 60 days for new subscribers. With this extension that offer will be available through June 2021. Additionally, access to free Xfinity WiFi hotspots will be extended as well, regardless if you’re a Xfinity subscriber or not. Comcast’s “Lift Zones” — its name for local community centers wired with Comcast internet — are also continuing as an ongoing project. Lift Zones are meant to reach low-income students who might have inconsistent internet access at home. Switching to remote learning or a combination of in-person and online instruction has made internet access critical for students, so having a place to log on that’s theoretically close to home helps.
Comcast isn’t alone in offering discounts during the pandemic. AT&T’s “Access from AT&T” program, which offers discounted internet service for families that participate in certain government assistance programs, was expanded to include families that meet a basic income eligibility during the pandemic. AT&T is also waiving data overage fees for all of its home internet plans, though both changes are currently slated to end on December 31st, 2020. Verizon’s offerings are slightly different. The company has a $20 discount on monthly payments for new Fios subscribers who qualify for the Federal Communications Commission’s low-income Lifeline discount program, along with 60 days of free router rentals. Sign-ups are accepted through the end of 2020, and customers can keep the discount as long as they qualify, according to Verizon.
All three companies signed on to the “Keep Americans Connected” pledge created by the FCC in March when the main focus at the time was not terminating internet service for 60 days, whether or not customers were able to pay their bills. Those 60 days have long been up, and despite the pandemic continuing to infect wide swaths of the country, there’s currently no equally expansive measure to protect customers. AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast are all offering ways to maintain your connection — but not without subscribers taking action first.
Correction: A previous version of this article suggested that “Lift Zones” were also being extended through June 30th, 2021. Lift Zones are an ongoing project with no end date. We regret the error.