In keeping with the Federal Communications Commission’s recently announced Keep Americans Connected Pledge, Verizon has announced it will waive some fees and add extra high-speed data for wireless and small business customers in response to the ongoing covid-19 outbreak.
The company announced Monday that it will waive overage charges, activation fees, and late fees for residential and small-business users. A spokesperson for the company told Gizmodo these billing cycles are in fact being waived and will not need to be paid at a later date. The company said it will also automatically add 15GB of high-speed data to consumer and small-business plans from March 25 through April 30. This will mean 15GB of extra 4G LTE hotspot data for unlimited customers, and 15GB of additional data for prepaid and postpaid metered customers on standalone or shared data plans. Verizon said its More Everything, Verizon Plan 1.0, Verizon Plan 2.0, the Verizon Unlimited Plan, and all Mix & Match Unlimited customers are eligible and will see the upgrade automatically added to their plans.
In addition, Verizon said it’s waiving service charges for two months for its Lifeline program for low-income households for existing customers as of March 20 for both broadband and home voice services. New Lifeline customers will not receive the two waived billing cycles but will have access to discounted Fios home internet plans, the company said.
Earlier this month—a day after well over a dozen U.S. senators called on telecoms companies to suspend fees and data caps in response to the pandemic—FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, which saw dozens of telecoms companies commit to waived late fees, increased access to wi-fi hotspots, and keeping service in place for those who are unable to immediately pay their bills due to financial burdens imposed by the covid-19 outbreak.
“As the coronavirus outbreak spreads and causes a series of disruptions to the economic, educational, medical, and civic life of our country, it is imperative that Americans stay connected. Broadband will enable them to communicate with their loved ones and doctors, telework, ensure their children can engage in remote learning, and—importantly—take part in the ‘social distancing’ that will be so critical to limiting the spread of this novel coronavirus,” Pai said in a statement at the time. “That’s why I’m asking all broadband and telephone service providers to take the Keep Americans Connected Pledge.
In other words, telecoms haven’t suddenly started offering free service out of the goodness of their hearts—it was asked of them. Even still, the measure will no doubt offer welcome financial relief, however temporary, to those most impacted by the pandemic.
As the Verge noted, Verizon said in an earlier notice this month that while most of its customers are on unlimited plans, it encouraged those customers who were not “to connect to Wi-Fi hotspots whenever available,” as it’s not lifting data caps for those customers. Gizmodo has reached out to Verizon for more information about potential data limits and will update this post when we hear back.