COVID-19 Update: The Cable Industry’s Ongoing Response
As the COVID-19 crisis intensifies across the U.S. and around the globe, developments are changing rapidly as data and analysis about the spread of the virus continue to be released. But the most constant prescription for “flattening the curve” to reduce the spread of the virus is the strong advice for consumers to stay in the safety of their homes and stay socially distant from others.
This means that tens of millions of Americans are now working, doing schoolwork and entertaining themselves at home, and they are relying on the internet to keep them connected to their jobs, their schools, their families and their favorite shows.
As we all work together to help Americans respond to this crisis and make necessary adjustments, the cable industry is working to do its part. Last week, the cable industry immediately committed to the national call to keep Americans connected including opening public Wi-Fi hotspots. But even more than that, cable internet providers simultaneously announced plans to significantly bolster programs to expand internet access, especially for low-income households and families with students that are now learning from home. TV networks are also dedicating resources to this challenge, airing public service announcements to keep viewers informed about social etiquette, personal hygiene and mental health plus engaging in fundraising efforts for families in need.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, we are committed to keeping the public informed about the cable industry’s efforts to respond and contribute to our national recovery. See below for a comprehensive list of what broadband providers and TV networks are doing.
Cable’s ISPs are ensuring that consumers can stay connected plus expanding internet access programs:
- Through the FCC’s Keep America Connected pledge, all of our members have agreed to open nationwide public Wi-Fi hotspots to everyone.
- Many companies, including Cox, Comcast, Mediacom, Midco are offering new, low-income customers two free months of home internet and raising the speed of that program’s service to 25/3 Mbps and some even faster.
- Charter, along with others, is giving households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a broadband subscription, free broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days.
- Comcast is one of the operators pausing data plans for 60 days giving all customers unlimited data for no additional charge.
- Midco, Service Electric, Vyve Broadband and the rest of our members have committed to not disconnecting a customer’s internet service or charging of late fees if they can’t pay their bills during this period.
- GCI is offering low price options for new internet customers with no annual contract or qualifications required.
- GCI and others have also committed to providing temporary increases for residential customers on slower speed packages.
- Charter is working with school districts and public libraries on remote learning opportunities.
- Charter has also donated airtime to run 1,000 PSA spots per week, including on all Spectrum News Networks, for four weeks to all their video subscribers at an approximate value of $3,000,000 each week. Additionally, they will run the PSAs on their digital video and streaming apps.
TV programming companies are also contributing to the effort to keep consumers informed:
- NBCU, Viacom, FOX and Disney have committed to airing PSAs sharing valuable health, social distancing and hygiene information for consumers
- Cartoon Network has launched a global PSA campaign targeted to kids
- Discovery has created a global fundraising activation targeted to feeding kids via non-profit partners
- Noggin, the learning service for preschoolers from Nickelodeon, will be offered for free for three months for millions of kids in need, beginning next week, in partnership with the National Head Start Association and First Book.
- CSPAN has created a page on their website with a library of all federal press conferences and other events related to COVID-19.