Comcast announced late Friday that it is suspending enforcement of its data cap and overage fees for 60 days during the coronavirus pandemic.
“With so many people working and educating from home, we want our customers to access the Internet without thinking about data plans,” Comcast’s announcement said. “While the vast majority of our customers do not come close to using 1TB of data in a month, we are pausing our data plans for 60 days giving all customers unlimited data for no additional charge.”
Normally, Comcast charges an extra $50 per month for unlimited data, or $10 for each additional block of 50GB after customers exceed 1TB.
Comcast is also making its Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots free for anyone to use. Millions of the hotspots are scattered throughout the country; you can find hotspot locations here. The hotspots are normally free to Comcast customers, while anyone else needs to buy a temporary pass to use them.
Comcast is the largest home-Internet provider in the nation. AT&T, the second-biggest home-Internet provider that enforces data caps, announced that it would waive the caps yesterday.
T-Mobile also issued an announcement late Friday, saying it will upgrade all current customers to “unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days (excluding roaming).” This applies to any T-Mobile plan or Metro by T-Mobile prepaid plan that has a monthly data cap. Additionally, T-Mobile said it is giving all customers “an additional 20GB of mobile hotspot/tethering service for the next 60 days.” Sprint, which is being acquired by T-Mobile, is taking identical steps.
To help low-income Americans, T-Mobile said it is “working with our Lifeline partners to provide customers extra free data up to 5GB of data per month over the next two months.” Lifeline is a federal program that provides discount service to people with low incomes, and many Lifeline providers resell T-Mobile service instead of operating their own networks. T-Mobile said it’s also increasing the data allowance on its EmpowerED program for schools and students, upping everyone to at least 20GB per month for the next 60 days.
Comcast, T-Mobile, and Sprint were among dozens of ISPs that signed a pledge to the Federal Communications Commission to waive late fees and keep customers connected when they miss payments. The pledge does not include waiver of data caps, but some ISPs have done so anyway.
As we noted in previous coverage, Comcast is raising speeds from 15Mbps download/2Mbps upload to 25Mbps/3Mbps on Internet Essentials, its $10-per-month service for low-income Americans. This speed increase is permanent, Comcast said. Comcast it is also giving 60 days of free Internet Essentials service to new low-income customers.