US telcos and ISPs band together to fight the spread of Covid19

Published: 15 March 2020 - 7:31 a.m.

The US’ Federal Communications Commission has called on the country’s telecommunications and internet service providers to do all they can to ensure that US citizens retain access to connectivity during the Covid19 epidemic.

The FCC has launched the Keep America Connected initiative, which will ask telcos and ISPs to refrain from terminating connectivity supply for anyone who falls behind on their payments during the epidemic.

“As the coronavirus outbreak spreads and causes a series of disruptions to the economic, educational, medical, and civic life of our country, it is imperative that Americans stay connected. Broadband will enable them to communicate with their loved ones and doctors, telework, ensure their children can engage in remote learning, and—importantly—take part in the ‘social distancing’ that will be so critical to limiting the spread of this novel coronavirus,” said FCC chairman, Ajit Pai.

“That’s why I’m asking all broadband and telephone service providers to take the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. I don’t want any American consumers experiencing hardships because of the pandemic to lose connectivity,” he added.

The Keep Americans Connected Pledge will ask telcos and ISPs to abide by the following rules for the next 60 days:

(1) Not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;

(2) Waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and

(3) Open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.

The FCC has reported that it has seen a huge uptake of the KAC pledge among businesses in the countries telecommunications sector, as the industry bands together to try and limit the spread of the disease.

“I applaud those companies that have already taken the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. They are stepping up to the plate and taking critical steps that will make it easier for Americans to stay connected during this pandemic and maintain much-needed social distancing. I urge other companies to join them. This may be a difficult time for our nation, but if we all work together, I am confident that we can rise to the challenge,” Pai said.

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