Verizon has announced that it is automatically adding 15GB of high-speed data to wireless plans in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, the company announced it will waive overage charges and late fees for those affected by the crisis, waive internet and voice service for those on its discount Lifeline plan, and reiterated its previous pledge of free international calling for consumer wireless and home voice customers to CDC level 3 countries, among other efforts.
“We understand the hardships that many of our customers are facing, and we’re doing our part to ensure they have broadband internet connectivity during this unprecedented time,” said Verizon Consumer Group CEO Ronan Dunne. “With so many Americans working and learning remotely from home, having access to reliable and affordable internet is more important than ever before.”
The changes are in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s 60-day Keep Americans Connected Pledge. The pledge asks US internet service providers to not terminate service for residential and small business customers, waive late fees incurred as a result of the pandemic, and provide open access public Wi-Fi hotspots to “any American who needs them.” It also urges companies to suspend data caps and fees for long distance calls.
From March 25th through April 30th, Verizon consumer and small business customers with metered data plans will get 15GB added, which can be used for hotspot, smartphone, or another device. Meanwhile, Verizon unlimited customers will get 15GB of 4G LTE hotspot data added to their plan.
It’s worth noting that Verizon is waiving overage charges, but isn’t removing data caps for mobile customers. In a separate post, the company notes that “most of the company’s wireless customers are on unlimited wireless plans,” and says that customers who aren’t are “encouraged to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots whenever available” as Wi-Fi connections don’t count against data usage. So, that means if you have a plan with a data cap, you may still need to call up Verizon after the fact to get them to remove incurred overage fees.
Several companies have also laid out how they plan to comply with the pledge. Comcast announced it will suspend its internet data cap policy for 60 days and waive overage fees for home internet customers, among other initiatives. T-Mobile removed mobile data caps and gave customers 20GB of additional hotspot / tethering data. AT&T, like Verizon, isn’t outright removing caps, instead saying it will “waive domestic wireless plan overage charges for data.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says that virtually every major US broadband and telecom business has committed to the pledge, including Charter, Sprint, and others.