More cable companies follow Comcast in lifting data caps

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, and called on operators to not terminate service or charge late fees for the next 60 days. (Comcast)

As more U.S. states and cities order lockdowns to help prevent the continued spread of the coronavirus, more cable operators are following Comcast in temporarily lifting data caps and service terminations.

On Friday, Comcast announced a series of steps it is taking to help consumers in its service footprint stay connected. In addition to pausing its 1TB data cap for 60 days, the company made Xfinity WiFi hotspots free for everyone, and said it won’t disconnect internet service or charge late fees for consumers who contact the company to say they can’t pay their bills during the lockdown. The company is also giving low-income families 60 days of free access to its Internet Essentials broadband program.

“During this extraordinary time, it is vital that as many Americans as possible stay connected to the internet – for education, work, and personal health reasons,” said Comcast Cable CEO Dave Watson in a statement. “Our employees also live and work in virtually every community we serve, and we all share the same belief that it’s our Company’s responsibility to step up and help out.”

Charter on Friday also said that for the next 60 days it will offer free Spectrum broadband access to households with K-12 or college students who don't already have any Spectrum service. The company also said it will open its Wi-Fi hotspots for public use and reminded consumers that Spectrum does not have data caps.

More smaller cable operators are following suit on the data cap suspension. Sparklight and NewWave Communications – both broadband providers run by Cable One, said on Friday they’re going with unlimited data on all plans for the next 30 days and waiving late fees for 60 days.

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Fidelity Communications said that it is waiving late fees for 60 days. Atlantic Broadband said that until further notice, it won’t terminate any internet service or charge late fees. Beam, a cable operator in Alabama, said it’s offering free 50 Mbps internet service for 30 days (and free installation) to new customers with K-12 or college students.

Those announcements and others came late last week after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, and called on operators to not terminate service or charge late fees for the next 60 days. Fixed and wireless internet service providers who signed the pledge include ACIRA – Powered by Farmers Mutual Telephone Company & Federated Telephone; Allstream Business US; AlticeUSA; Antietam Broadband; Atlantic Broadband; AT&T; BBT; BOYCOM Vision; Burlington Telecom; Cable One; Central Arkansas Telephone Cooperative; CenturyLink; Charter; Cincinnati Bell; Citizens Connected; Comcast; Consolidated Communications; Cox Communications; Digital West; East Ascension Telephone Company; Education Networks of America; Emery Telecom; Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative; FirstLight; Frontier; Google Fiber; Grande Communications; Granite Telecommunications; Great Plains Communications; GWI; Hiawatha Broadband; Hill Country; IdeaTek Telcom; Inteliquent; Lafourche Telephone Company; Lakeland Communications; Long Lines Broadband; Mammoth Networks/Visionary Broadband; Mediacom; MetTel; Nex-Tech; Ninestar Connect; Northwest Fiber; Orbitel Communications; Pioneer Communications; Premier Communications; Range Telephone Cooperative; RCN; Reserve Telephone Company; Sacred Wind Communications; Shawnee Communications; Socket Telecom; Sonic; Sprint, Starry; TDS Telecom; TelNet Worldwide; TMobile; TracFone Wireless; Uniti Fiber; US Cellular; Vast Broadband; Verizon; Vyve Broadband Investments; Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom; Wave Broadband; West Telecom Services; Windstream; and ZenFi Networks.