Last month, the country's cable broadband leaders came together and made a commitment to help Americans get through this pandemic by signing onto the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. The FCC initiative was started to ensure that Americans and small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic could continue to access an internet connection. Through this pledge (which extended originally until mid-May), NCTA's broadband members committed to meet the government's pledge by waiving late fees for affected customers, maintaining connectivity irrespective of COVID-19 payment complications, and opening up their Wi-Fi hotspots to all internet users. Yesterday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued a call for internet service providers to extend the commitments contained in the pledge through June 30.
NCTA members Comcast, Charter, Cox, Mediacom, and Midco all announced earlier this week that they would not only extend commitments in the pledge through the end of June, but that they would also extend other previously announced programs that similarly are designed to encourage connection.
Comcast's Internet Essentials Programs—the largest broadband adoption program in the country—which typically costs $10 a month for low-income households, is offering the program for free for new customers through June 30. It has also increased the internet speeds offered for the program, not just during this time frame, but permanently.
"These extended measures will continue to keep Americans safe and ensure that households are equipped for students to learn and stay informed at home as the nation copes with this unprecedented disruption to our daily lives,” said Dave Watson, Comcast Cable Chief Executive Officer. "Our services have never been more important, and we're doing everything we can to keep people connected to the internet."
Charter's broadband adoption program, Spectrum Internet Assist, will continue its free offering of the program as well to new eligible families for the next two months. The provider is also offering up to 100Mbps internet speeds for free—including in-home Wi-Fi, for households with teachers, K-12 or college students, to make distance learning all the more possible.
Cox pledged through July 15 to offer Connect2Compete—its low-cost internet product for eligible families—for free for families with school-aged children who are enrolled in low-income assistance programs.
"From our continued support of the FCC's initiative to the extension of our other relief offerings, our focus remains on ensuring our customers stay connected and have the speeds they need to work and learn from home," said Pat Esser, president and chief executive officer of Cox Communications. "We do not want our customers to worry about losing essential services during this time of need."
Mediacom will continue to offer its low-cost internet program for new qualifying families, Mediacom Connect2Compete, for the next two months, which will include an increase in internet speeds as well. Residents in their service areas are also being offered the opportunity to lock in discounted prices for year-long service.
"By extending these initiatives through June 30th, Mediacom hopes to help students, teachers and administrators safely and successfully finish the 2019-20 school year," said John Pascarelli, Mediacom's executive vice president of operations.
And Midco, which fosters strong partnerships with its area schools, is also offering Midco Internet Basics for free through June 30 for those low-income households with a student, and without an internet connection, so that kids can continue their classroom learning.
America's broadband providers are committed to helping keep the country running as much as possible through its robust networks, and never has there been a more important time to step it up than now. Every sector of society stands to benefit from access to an internet connection, and cable operators are hard at work during this pandemic to ensure that all Americans are granted that opportunity.