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AT&T and Comcast improve internet access in response to COVID-19

Christine Fisher
Contributing Writer
Rawpixel via Getty Images

With so many people in the US working and learning from home, as offices and schools close in response to the coronavirus pandemic, internet service providers (ISPs) are beginning to react. Comcast is increasing internet speeds for low-income users, and AT&T told Motherboard that it is suspending all broadband usage caps until further notice.

Comcast is focussing on its Internet Essentials program, which provides broadband to low-income Americans for $9.95 per month. Now, new, qualifying customers can sign up for 60 days at no cost, and Comcast is boosting broadband speeds for all Internet Essentials customers. Over the next few days, it will bump speeds from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps, and it will maintain those speeds going forward.

AT&T is taking a slightly different approach, removing usage caps. Until now, some customers have seen usage caps ranging from 150 GB to 1 terabyte per month, Motherboard explains. Users who surpassed those limits could be penalized $10 per additional 50 gigabytes, or more. It's unclear if those caps will come back when the pandemic settles down.

We may see more ISPs taking action to improve internet speeds, access and usage soon. Today, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel called on the FCC to take aggressive action in response to COVID-19. We don't know yet what that will look like, but if AT&T and Comcast are any indication, it could include a push to increase speeds and lift data caps.