During the COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic, we answer the question are internet providers still doing installation and which providers are going out of their way to accommodate customers.
Internet Service Providers Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic Update with Centurylink
Before the World Health Organization declared the Covid-19 coronavirus a pandemic in March of 2020, approximately 5 million employees or 3.6 percent of the workforce were working from home. Exponentially more people now are working from home, and thousands of school-age children are using their home internet connections to do the same with school.
Despite the fact that many people find themselves confined to their homes, our nation is more poised than ever for virtual connections. Reliable internet does not come easily. Approximately 19 million Americans lack direct access to reliable broadband services.
Keep reading to learn about what internet providers are now doing to help the millions of people who need the internet to receive an education and pay bills during the coronavirus outbreak.
Where Do You Live?
Before you freak out about not being able to have an internet provider come into your home and install your internet, check your state laws regarding essential businesses. If you're currently on a stay-at-home order, this means everyone needs to stay at home except those working for essential businesses. Each state determines what an essential business is. Up to this point, all states consider internet providers just as essential as grocers, gas stations, and medical facilities.
When considering the internet service providers, where you live matters. All of the companies we have researched are still offering in-home internet installation. However, stay-at-home orders issued by governors have limited many businesses from operating as business as usual, fortunately internet service providers are not one of those. Of course, the coronavirus has altered the way many of these companies do business, just like the majority of us around the world.
Logic would tell you internet providers are essential at this critical time of life because the internet has become the lifeblood of businesses in a pandemic. Broadband, fiber optic, satellite internet, fixed wireless and all other internet methods keep our economy rolling.
Fortunately, a quick check of your state's laws, even with shelter-in-orders in place do not prevents internet companies from coming into your home and installing internet service.
If an ISP is Essential
Even if your state deems your internet service provider as essential, a company may not necessarily bring workers into your home to hook you up. Each business will have specific protocols in place.
You may have the fortune of still having an internet company near you willing to come into your home. Healthy workers will come to your house, most likely with proper safety measures in place like gloves, and will install your internet. Some internet companies will provide you with the hardware and instructions on how to install your own services instead of coming into your home. One of the newer measures being taken by internet providers is having their installer temperatures checked twice a day and having the latest temperature reading displayed with a sticker on their identification badges.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic began, some companies were willing to work with all kinds of situations. For example, if you lose your job, you can negotiate a price for your best internet.
As for now, though, each provider has their own way of dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and the financial stress it is causing.
Internet Providers Keep Americans Connected
The federal government has given America's best internet providers the opportunity to connect America even more with their Keep Americans Connected Pledge.
Over 500 companies have signed the FCC's Keep Americans Connected Pledge, which basically means companies are working hard to connect all Americans via the internet.
The pledge has three basic promises:
- Companies pledge to not disconnect internet service to any homes or small businesses because a customer cannot pay his bill. So if you're unable to pay your bill because you lost your job due to a stay-at-home order, you do not have to worry about losing your internet.
- Internet companies will forego late fees for homes and small businesses if those individuals cannot afford to pay their bills because of the pandemic. So again, if you lose your job or your small business is losing profits because of the pandemic, you do not have to worry about late fees for now.
- Internet companies have promised to open their Wi-Fi hotspots for free to any person who needs them.
Each internet company has its own way of fulfilling these promises. If you're wondering how companies are fulfilling their promises, first, look at which companies provide service in your community. Then keep reading to learn about what deals each national company is offering.
Internet Essentials from Comcast Xfinity
Comcast Xfinity has long been a leader in the internet market. Now they're providing for people who cannot afford their premium service by offering a program called Internet Essentials.
Internet Essentials is a unique program that addresses the major problems anyone may have with having internet in their home. Comcast Xfinity provides internet, a low-cost computer, and free digital literacy training.
The program isn't that new. It began in 2011. It has expanded continually to provide internet to individuals that fall into at-risk categories like seniors, community college students, people living in public housing, and veterans on a fixed income.
To qualify for Internet Essentials, an individual must first be in a Comcast Xfinity serviceable area. They must also receive either state or federal assistance.
Additionally, Internet Essentials customers must not have had Xfinity internet service within the last 90 days or have an outstanding Comcast Xfinity balance less than a year old.
If you've met all of these criteria, you also must be eligible for public assistance like the school lunch program, Medicaid, SNAP, or similar programs.
When you sign up for Internet Essentials, you receive a 25/3 Mbps internet service for a low $9.95 a month plus tax. Additionally, if you sign up by April 30, 2020, you receive free internet for the first 60 days with no activation fee or equipment rental fee.
If you do not have a computer, Comcast Xfinity can hook you up with one for $149.99 plus tax.
Comcast Xfinity will also set you up with free internet training online and in print. In past days they would also offer you training in person, but considering the current state of the world, online or in print is most likely your best option for training.
You also receive WiFi via a Wireless Gateway in your home at no additional cost. Comcast Xfinity also hooks up its internet Essentials customers with access to 40 one-hour sessions of a WiFi Hotspot every 30 days.
Comcast Xfinity provides a self-install method when you order their Internet Essentials program. Xfinity’s self install kit is delivered to customers within five to seven days of you ordering your internet service. They drop the equipment off at your door and then provide an online video you can watch on your phone. This video will walk you through the installation process. By all accounts the setup is pretty easy with only two cables needing to be connected to get you started with service.
Verizon has adopted a motto in light of the coronavirus pandemic: “keeping customers connected during this crisis”.
Thus Verizon also signed the FCC's Keep America Connected pledge.
Like Comcast Xfinity, Verizon has a government assistance program. Their program is called Lifeline. It offers discounts to qualified low-income customers.
Lifeline customers have non-transferable benefits, and the specifics of the benefits vary from state to state.
Because of the current pandemic, Verizon is now offering two months of free internet and voice service for its current Lifeline customers. Basically, if COVID-19 has affected you financially or physically and you're a Lifeline customer, you have two months of free internet coming to you.
To qualify for the benefit, you need to have been eligible for Lifeline and a customer of Verizon Fios since March 20, 2020.
If you're not a Lifeline customer but still belong to a low-income household, you can still benefit from Verizon's generosity and service. Verizon now has new affordable internet options for low-income households.
Beginning April 3, Verizon Fios dsis offering a new broadband discount program to new Fios Internet customers who qualify for Lifeline.
Verizon Fios speed has Mix and Match plans. Customers receive a $20 discount and can get Fios Home Internet of 200/200Mbps speech for just $19.99 a month. Verizon has also tacked on Disney Plus for a year.
Plus, Verizon waives the first two months' router rental charge.
Because so many of their customers are currently working from home, Verizon has added 15 GB of high-speed data for their wireless consumers and small business customers from March 25 through April 30.
Best of all, customers did not need to do anything to apply for this bump in data. Verizon tacked in on automatically.
Additionally, Verizon gave their first responders priority by pre-empting their abilities for voice and data. They also dropped all of the data caps for consumers and small businesses.
Verizon provides all of its customers with instructions on how to install their own internet after customers sign up with Verizon.
Similar to Verizon, AT&T has also adopted new policies. They have dropped late payment fees for customers affected by the coronavirus. They also have pledged to keep your internet on if you're unable to pay your bill right now.
To keep all people connected to the internet, AT&T opened public WiFi hot spots for people to use for free until mid-May. AT&T is also providing unlimited data to customers for now and offering internet plans as low as $10 a month to low-income families.
AT&T provides you with the necessary hardware and instructions to hook your internet up yourself. This will keep visitors out of your home and keep everyone around you safer during this pandemic.
Cox internet service is mimicking what Verizon and AT&T are doing. They're also waiving late fees and staying committed to keeping their customers' internet service active.
They do not want customers to have to decide if they will keep their internet on to keep their jobs or buy groceries for their families. Cox has also opened WiFi hotspots for free public use and eliminated data caps until May 15.
Cox is reimbursing customers with 500GB and unlimited data add-ons right now. They've also lowered the price of their Starter plan to $19.99 and boosted the speed to 50 Mbps.
Like other big internet companies. Cox provides instructions on how to self-install your internet.
Like their benevolent counterparts, CenturyLink has also put new policies into place. They've suspended data caps and signed the FCC's Keep Americans Connected Pledge.
CenturyLink has also promised at least until mid-May to not cut off service for any residential or small business customer that cannot pay their bill. They've forgiven late fees and opened their public hotspots for free use. Centurylink provides one of the fastest high speed internet services and also has one of the most advanced infrastructures in the United States, so they are fully able to handle the extra load on their networks due to the huge surge in internet traffic.
Mediacom has used its prerogative to put a pause on the monthly data caps unit at least May 15. They're offering their Access Internet 60 plan for a mere $19.99 for a whopping 12 months.
Mediacom has also boosted the speed of the Connect2Compete program. This low-income user service now offers customers a bump up of 25 Mbps. Additionally, if you're a new customer, you receive your first two months of internet service for free.
Mediacom has also opened its public Wi-Fi hotspots for all to use.
Spectrum is another company offering free internet and WiFi until mid-May. Spectrum has focused primarily on kids, though, offering free internet and WiFi to families with school-age kids and college-age students. This program is probably one of the best actions we have seen taken by an internet service provider. Mark Cuban stated that the way corporations respond to the coronavirus pandemic will heavily impact the way consumers view them in the future. Well if that is true, Spectrum has done a lot to show that their focus at this time is truly on the consumer and the health of our country and not on its profits.
Similar to the bigger companies, Spectrum has a program for low-income households. Their program is called the Spectrum Internet Assist program.
Spectrum has opened its Wi-Fi hotspots to the public and removed data caps for now.
HughesNet responded in like ways also. They have increased the speed at which their customers receive the internet if the customer goes over his monthly data plan. Basically what his means for current customers is that the impact on their speeds from the throttling policy they currently employ will be much less impactful than usual. They also have worked to make education and business collaboration a priority by optimizing traffic during daytime hours.
Basically, HughesNet is attempting to clear and widen traffic lanes during internet rush hour.
HughesNet also put out information to educate users on how to best manage their data when they have their entire family at home during the pandemic. They give advice like delaying automatic updates on devices to between 2 a.m. and 8 a.m. and downloading large amounts of data like books and RV shows during their Bonus Zone house from 2 a.m. to 8 a.m.
They also suggest using audio and not video with programs that could suck up a lot of data like Google hangouts or Zoom.
Hughesnet increased the amount of available capacity and provided more data for its users. They also vowed to not cancel anyone's service or charge late fees during the time of the pandemic.
Hughesnet has also put out a set of guidelines for installers which include:
· If a customer does not want to touch your smart phone or tablet to sign for their service, ask for their verbal acceptance
· Disinfect your smart phone, tablet and laptop before and after every install.
· Use disposable latex gloves during install and dispose of them after each use
· Do not shake hands (explain that you are following social distancing guidelines)
Because they signed the FCC's pledge as well, as of March 16, 2020, Viasat promised to not cancel any service to a residence or small business for the next 60 days if that customer could not pay their bills because of the pandemic.
Viasat also is ignoring late fees for customers affected but he pandemic and opening their WiFi hotspots to any American who needs them.
Viasat has made a goal of keeping their customers informed, productive, and connected to their colleagues and loved ones.
As of now
Rise is currently running a limited-time offer because of the pandemic. They're offering speeds up to 25 Mbps for $29.95 a month for 12 months and up to 50 Mbps for $39.95 a month for 12 months. This is an amazing deal given that finding high speed internet for anything lower than $50 is a rarity.
Rise also has a program for low-income customers through the Lifeline program. Customers eligible will receive a monthly discount for one discount per household.
You can qualify for Lifeline if you make less than the program's requirement or if you qualify for food stamps, SNAP, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Income-based eligibility, or the Veteran's Pension or Survivor's Pension benefit.
Internet Providers Unite
Because of shelter-in-place policies, few if any internet companies are sending technicians into homes to install the internet. However, internet services are still at a premium.
Dedicated internet providers have focused on keeping Americans connected during this pandemic. This means they provide the deals, the hardware, and the instructions so nearly every American can have internet service right now.
For all of your internet needs, visit our website and learn more about us.