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AT&T is suspending broadband data caps for home internet customers due to coronavirus

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To alleviate new work-from-home policies taking effect

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

AT&T is suspending data caps for broadband internet customers on Thursday, as waves of employees face new work-from-home policies from US companies trying to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, according to Motherboard.

As it stands, some AT&T home internet customers, not to be confused with those who subscribe to an AT&T mobile data plan, have plans that cap the amount of monthly data they can use with devices like laptops, game consoles, smart TVs, and other devices. Those caps can range from 150GB to 1TB, Motherboard says. And going over the cap can result in fees as high as $10 for every 50GB over the limit.

“Many of our AT&T Internet customers already have unlimited home internet access, and we are waiving internet data overage for the remaining customers,” a company spokesperson tells Motherboard. The decision came in response to inquiries from Motherboard regarding the telecom’s plans for dealing with surges in at-home internet use throughout the country, as offices close and people are being advised to avoid large gatherings and densely populated public spaces.

Earlier today, a group of 17 US Senators sent a letter to the chief executives of eight internet service providers — including AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile, and Verizon — demanding they suspend broadband data caps (or the fees associated with going over the limit) and throttling due to the coronavirus crisis.

“As organizations around the country formulate their responses to the recent outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, we write to discuss the steps that your company is taking to accommodate the unprecedented reliance we will likely see on telepresence services, including telework, online education, telehealth, and remote support services,” reads the letter. “Specifically, we ask that you temporarily suspend broadband caps and associated fees or throttling for all communities affected by COVID-19 and work with public school districts, colleges, and universities to provide free, or at-cost, broadband options for students whose schools close due to COVID-19 who don’t have access at home.”

The spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, has led to a wave of event cancellations and, in just the past week, a more drastic series of responses from the federal government and municipalities throughout the country. Major sporting leagues, including the NBA and NHL, have canceled their remaining seasons, while New York City announced today it would be declaring a state of emergency and shutting down Broadway, its largest tourism hub. The Trump administration announced yesterday it would ban foreign nationals from Europe from entering the country for the next month.