Verizon is extending its connectivity pledge from mid-May to June 30. Look for other carriers to follow suit.
That means it will "neither terminate service nor charge late fees to our postpaid wireless, residential, and small business [50 lines or fewer] customers that notify us of their inability to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic."
Back in March, FCC chairman Ajit Pai asked ISPs to sign the Keep Americans Connected pledge, which was initially for 60 days.
Verizon says it was signing a new FCC pledge but a spokesperson said it had made the decision on its own to continue keeping the COVID-19 lines of communications open.
An FCC spokesperson had no comment on whether Pai was officially asking ISPs to extend the pledge, though it would not be a surprise if he were.
Pai talked with broadband service providers and trade associations on March 12 and asked them, "in order to ensure that Americans do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity as a result of these exceptional circumstances," to the following for at least the next 60 days:
(1) "not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
(2) "waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and
(3) "open its WiFi hotspots to any American who needs them."
Over 700 ISPs signed on.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.