COVID-19

The days of free, unlimited data may be coming to an end for some internet users

Jasmine Garsd Jul 6, 2020
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During the pandemic, the internet has provided a vital service for people to file for unemployment, or take online classes or order deliveries. Scott Olson/Getty Images
COVID-19

The days of free, unlimited data may be coming to an end for some internet users

Jasmine Garsd Jul 6, 2020
Heard on:
During the pandemic, the internet has provided a vital service for people to file for unemployment, or take online classes or order deliveries. Scott Olson/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

In mid-March, the FCC asked internet providers not to terminate service to customers who couldn’t pay bills because of the pandemic.

Companies like Comcast and AT&T agreed, and offered unlimited data for free, which, for a Comcast user, meant saving around $50 a month.

Professor Marvin Sirbu at Carnegie Mellon University says that’s a vital service. “If you want to file for unemployment insurance, they want you to do it online,” Sirbu said. “In the recent pandemic, if you are a student in school, you need to go online for your remote classes.”

But, the FCC’s initiative ended July 1. AT&T will continue to offer free unlimited data for home internet to certain customers. Comcast says it will not.

“Probably some of these companies feel like the consumers will become too accustomed to some of the free services or trials or benefits they are enjoying,” said professor Seth Lewis at the University of Oregon.

Comcast says people who can’t afford to pay can work out a payment plan, and it’s extending free basic internet to new low-income customers.

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