Video calling, binge-watching shows, listening to the depressing news, putting the inner chef to work, spending hours cleaning, and working from home; Life, as we know it during the lockdown. Undoubtedly, we are enjoying working from the comfort of our homes, but everyone will agree that confining themselves to houses is taking a toll on their mental health. And it is not easy for Internet service providers to deal with the increased traffic as well.
Here are some facts to enlighten you on the increased use of the Internet:
Traffic Spike Amid the Pandemic
With most of the cities in the country observing a complete lockdown, employees are working from home. Not only the employees, but the students are taking online lectures as well. And those who do not fall in either of the categories are spending time binge-watching shows or talking to friends over long phone calls.
Under such circumstances, had it not been for the pledge the telecommunication companies signed, even the best Internet packages 2020 would not have sufficed.
According to Verizon, voice usage increased by 25% from March 12-19. During the same time, web traffic increased by 22%. Moreover, the week-to-week analysis revealed that demand for online streaming services including Amazon Prime and Netflix increased by 12%. Online gaming skyrocketed with a 75% increase. US carriers have already suspended data caps. And the government is playing the part as well.
Keeping Americans Connected Pledge
The Federal Communications Commission Chairman, Ajit Pai, emphasized on the need for the Americans to stay connected during this crucial period. For the residents of the States to not lose connection with each other, the chairman made the telecom companies sign the pledge.
Some of the clauses included in the pledge are:
- No termination of services allowed (whether phone or Internet) to residential or small business customers. Because the disruption might mean that they are not able to pay their bills.
- Waiving of late fees that residential or small businesses might not be able to pay due to their financial circumstances.
- Opening of Wi-Fi hotspots for free use to the public.
More than 160 companies signed the pledge.
Companies Offering Free Internet
The company eased the customers by allowing them to use Wireline and Wireless Internet without any data caps. Subscribers got entitled to unlimited data. Above this, AT&T pledged to not terminate any of the subscribers’ services who are unable to pay the bill for the next 60 days. The company will also terminate any fees associated with late payment. Moreover, AT&T’s public Wi-Fi hotspots will be open to the public.
CenturyLink will also waive off any late fees that the customers might incur due to their inability to pay their bills for the next 60 days. None of the residential and small business services will get terminated either for the same period. The company also announced the suspension of data caps.
Starting from March 13, Comcast paused the enforcement of its data caps. The company agreed to continue with the same for the next 60 days. This means that the customers have access to unlimited data for this period. As far as the new subscribers are concerned, they will receive two months of free Internet access.
The company also increased its download and upload speeds to 25 Mbps and 3 Mbps for its Internet Essential plan. The Xfinity Wi-Fi service offered by the company is also free for everyone.
On 16th March, Cox agreed to eliminate any data usage overage for the next 60 days. Customers with a 500GB or Unlimited data plan would receive the credits. New subscribers who sign up for the Cox Internet plans will not have to sign an annual contract. Apart from this, these employees will also get access to 50 Mbps download speed.
In addition to this, the company agreed to not terminate the services to any of the residential or small business customers for 60 days. Cox’s Wi-F hotspots are also open to the public.
Charter agreed on providing free Spectrum Internet broadband as well as Wi-Fi for 60 days if the household has K-12 to college students who do not have a subscription. The Internet service offered by the company already came without any data caps. The company’s Wi-Fi hotspots are also open for free public access.
Apart from this, Spectrum will be providing free access to Showtime and EPIX to all its cable TV subscribers.
Other companies who have also signed the pledge include Earthlink, Frontier Communications, Mediacom Communications, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Sprint, to name a few. During this time of need, the generosity that the companies are showing is making the survival of people easy. Hope that we get through this tough time sooner than soon.