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What just happened? With the US coronavirus outbreak forcing many people to work and study from home, AT&T has become the first ISP to suspend data caps for its broadband internet customers.
With so many companies telling employees to work from home, and schools and colleges switching to online-only classes, households are consuming more data than ever before. Additionally, canceled events and fears over social gatherings mean more people are opting to stay at home, resulting in more streaming and general internet use.
As reported by Motherboard, while some AT&T internet customers have no usage caps, others are limited to between 150 GB and 1 TB per month. Exceeding those limits can result in fines of up to $10 for every extra 50 GB used.
It has been claimed that internet data caps are there to prevent congestion, but we know this isn't true; they're really just another way to squeeze more money out of people.
"Many of our AT&T Internet customers already have unlimited home internet access, and we are waiving internet data overage for the remaining customers," a company spokesperson told the publication.
As a result of the #coronavirus people across this country are going to be asked to move work and learning online. So NOW is a really good time for the FCC to take action to get our nation's broadband providers to lift data caps and remove overage fees. https://t.co/1qJV7whVsR--- Jessica Rosenworcel (@JRosenworcel) March 12, 2020
Following Motherboard's report, 17 senators sent a letter to the CEOs of eight ISPs demanding the suspension of broadband data caps and associated fees or throttling for all communities affected by COVID-19. It also asked that they "work with public school districts, colleges, and universities to provide free, or at-cost, broadband options for students whose schools close due to COVID-19 who don't have access at home."
Another ISP, Comcast, has announced that it will support Americans through the coronavirus pandemic through its Internet Essentials program for low-income users. The plan will give new customers 60 days of complimentary internet service, which is normally $9.95 per month, and speeds will increase from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps for all new and existing customers.