Skip to main content

Senators Seeks ISP Action on Coronavirus-Affected Communities

Sen. John Warner led a letter to ISPs

Sen. John Warner led a letter to ISPs

Democratic Legislators were weighing on from the Senate side on what ISPs should be doing in the face of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

In a letter to the CEO's of AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter Communications, Comcast, Cox Communications, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon--a similar effort came from the House side--led by Sen. Mark Warner (D-Wash.), the senators called on ISPs to suspend fees and "restrictions" (like overage charges) that could "limit telepresence options. 

Verizon Says It Is Ready for Broadband-Related Virus Ramp-UP 

They also want free, or "at cost" broadband for students without current online access. Comcast, for one, has offered 60 days of free broadband for low-income residents in its service area currently without broadband service. AT&T has suspended overage charges, and NCTA-The Internet & Television Association says all its members are working on ways to help during the crisis. 

"[W]e 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," they said. That would arguably be all communities since the effects of the virus are countrywide. 

Related: Rosenworcel Calls for Aggressive FCC Action 

Also signing on to the letter were Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Angus King (I-Me.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), and Gary Peters (D-Mich). 

Perhaps tellingly, there were no Republicans on the letter, whose talk of throttling and data caps invoked the net neutrality fight that split the parties.