As schools and offices across the country are closing in light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, classes and businesses are moving online. For many of the estimated 19 million Americans without broadband internet service, learning and working from home poses challenges. Comcast (No. 6 on DiversityInc’s 2019 Top 50 Companies for Diversity), Cox (No. 11) and AT&T (No. 1) are each making their services available to low-income Americans.
Comcast announced March 12 that it would be offering two months of free internet service to low-income households. Comcast’s Internet Essentials program already works to connect low-income households to the internet, but during this time, Comcast is expanding the program’s initiatives. Typically, Comcast offers internet to low-income families for $9.95 a month, but it is now offering two months of free access to new customers in its service areas. Comcast will also be increasing its internet speeds for those enrolled in the Internet Essentials program. The speed will increase from 15/2 Mbps to 25/3 Mbps for all Internet Essentials customers and will remain that speed moving forward.
To sign up, applicants can visit www.internetessentials.com. The company will then send new customers a self-install kit free of shipping charge, term contracts or credit checks.
“Our hope is that broader access and faster speeds will help all of our Internet Essentials customers more easily work from home, access educational resources, obtain important government health care alerts, and stay in contact with their families during this difficult time,” Comcast said in a press release.
Similarly, Cox announced in a press release that it is offering its low-income internet service, Connect2Compete, for free to new low-income customers with children in grades K–12 in the home. Usually, this service costs $9.95 a month for those who qualify. Additionally, Cox is increasing its internet speeds rom 25/3 Mbps to 50/3 Mbps for 60 days, which began March 17. Families can complete the application for Connect2Compete at Cox.com/LowCostInternet or by calling 855-222-3252.
AT&T has pledged to not shut off service to any residential or small business customers unable to pay their wireless, home or internet bills for the next 60 days. It is also waiving data overage fees. AT&T’s Access from AT&T program will continue offering service to limited-income families for $10 a month, and public internet hotspots will be open for anyone who needs them. AT&T is taking further action to aid teachers and students. It is underwriting expenses for a “one-stop” resource center to support educators in managing school closings and online learning through the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) Coalition for eLearning.
AT&T said it is ensuring its teams working with FirstNet, the company’s broadband provider for first responders and public safety, are continuing to work to ensure responders’ connectivity remains strong.
“I want you to know that AT&T will continue to do everything we can do to help. I truly believe that together we can help slow the spread of the coronavirus and lessen its impact. And once we do that, it is only a matter of time before we get our communities back to normal,” Jeff McElfresh, AT&T Communications CEO said in a press release.