In response to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. wireless companies are taking measures to ensure you can stay connected. Some of these steps, such as waiving late fees and forbidding service termination, are designed to relieve financial hardship during this period of unpredictability. Moreover, several carriers have removed data caps and added mobile hotspot allowances so that social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation.
In this article:
- FCC Connectivity Pledge
- Additional Steps Carriers Are Taking
- Verizon’s COVID-19 Pledge
- T-Mobile’s COVID-19 Response
- AT&T’s Novel Coronavirus Pledge
- Sprint’s COVID-19 Announcement
- MVNO COVID-19 Responses
- Cleaning Your Phone in the Time of Coronavirus
FCC Connectivity Pledge
In response to the coronavirus outbreak and the associated stressors, on March 13, 2020, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the Keep Americans Connected Pledge. This initiative aims to ensure you don’t lose your cellular and internet access as a result of COVID-19 challenges. So far, more than 390 companies, including Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular, have signed the Keep Americans Connected Pledge.
For a period of at least 60 days (from March 13), participating broadband and mobile companies have pledged to:
- Waive all late payment fees.
- Continue providing wireless service to all customers, regardless of their ability to pay.
- Make their public WiFi hotspots available and free to any American who needs them.
***On April 30, Ajit Pai extended the FCC Keep Americans Connected Pledge to June 30, 2020.
Additional Steps Mobile Carriers are Taking
Many cell phone carriers have also taken additional steps to reduce the challenges associated with the coronavirus. They understand that it’s a stressful time for everyone. With so much change happening so quickly, these carriers want you to stay connected to your loved ones no matter your financial situation.
Verizon’s COVID-19 Pledge
- All payment fees are waived through June 30.
- Unlimited domestic calling to customers on limited minute plans.
- Free international calling to Level 3 countries that have been affected by COVID-19.
- Prepaid customers receive an extra 300 minutes to call Level 3 countries.
- Upgrade and new line activation fees are waived.
- Extra 15GB of hotspot to unlimited customers.
- Extra 15GB of high-speed data to shared data customers.
Further, Verizon aims to support students and teachers participating in the Verizon Innovative Learning Program by providing them with triple their current data allowances while schools are closed.
T-Mobile’s COVID-19 Response
T-Mobile has extended its commitment to the FCC pledge through June 30. Customers can contact T-Mobile directly to be granted this extension.
Beginning March 16, 2020:
- All T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers receive unlimited data for the next 60 days.
- Customers on a hotspot data plan receive an extra 20GB of hotspot data for the next 60 days.
- Lifeline subscribers receive an extra 5GB of data for the next 60 days.
- EmpowerED digital learning program subscribers receive at least 20GB of data/month.
- Free international calling to all Level 3 countries impacted by the pandemic.
- Sprint customers will receive enhanced roaming capacity on T-Mobile’s network for the next 60 days.
- Cheap T-Mobile Connect Plans are available earlier than planned—just $15/month for 2GB and $25/month for 5GB.
T-Mobile has also enabled online chats with retail experts through T-Mobile’s website, Apple Business Chat, or Facebook Messenger. Customers can add new lines or activate a new account. Beginning April 13, T-Mobile will expand the mobile chat capabilities by allowing customers to pay bills or upgrade accounts.
AT&T’s Novel Coronavirus Pledge
AT&T has extended its commitment to the FCC pledge through June 30 and will not disconnect any customers who are unable to pay their bills during this time.
Beginning March 18, 2020:
- All broadband customers receive unlimited home internet for 60 days.
- 50% off World Connect Advantage international plans.
- Free video conferencing through Cisco Webex Meetings.
- Extra 15GB/month for each line on an unlimited plan that includes a dedicated hotspot (April 2 – May 13).
- Free express shipping, as well as waived activation, upgrade, and restocking fees.
- 20% off accessories when you order through att.com/accessories.
- Extra 10GB of monthly data for limited data prepaid customers for 60 days (if you sign up before April 26).
- Extra 10GB of monthly hotspot for Unlimited Plus prepaid customers for 60 days (if you sign up before April 26).
- AT&T is temporarily offering an affordable prepaid plan—$15/month for 2GB of data.
On March 20, 2020, AT&T announced that they’ve created a Distance Learning and Family Connections fund to provide teachers, students, and parents the necessary tools for at-home learning.
Sprint’s COVID-19 Announcement
- Free international calling to Level 3 countries (through May 31, 2020).
- All Sprint customers receive unlimited data for 60 days (starting March 18, 2020).
- Customers on a plan with hotspot receive an extra 20GB of hotspot/month for 60 days (starting March 18, 2020).
- Customers with a hotspot-capable device receive 20GB/month of hotspot for 60 days (starting between March 18 and April 1).
Moreover, Sprint will provide their 1Million Project partner school districts with an additional 10GB of high-speed wireless data per month until June 30, 2020.
MVNO COVID-19 Responses
Many MVNOS, or small carriers, are responding to the COVID-19 crisis as well. Here’s what these small carriers are doing for their customers:
- Through April 30, Boost Mobile offers free international calling to Level 3 countries, waived reconnection fees, extra 20GB of hotspot to unlimited customers, and an additional 20GB of data to limited data customers.
- Starting March 13, all Metro by T-Mobile customers will have unlimited data for 60 days and free international calling to many countries, and starting March 20, customers on plans that include hotspot will receive an extra 20GB of hotspot for 60 days.
- Until April 14, Mint Mobile is offering customers free unlimited high-speed data add-ons.
- Cricket Wireless is waiving reactivation fees and temporarily offering a 2GB plan for $15/month. They are also adding 10GB of data to limited plans, as well as an extra 10GB of hotspot data to all unlimited plans.
- Through April 30, Consumer Cellular will not suspend a customer’s service due to non-payment and will waive all late fees, plus they’ve increased their 25GB plan to 55GB.
- Tello is giving all Tello customers double the data for the next few months during the coronavirus pandemic.
Moreover, if you are a Boost Mobile or Metro by T-Mobile customer and cannot make a service payment, contact your carrier as soon as possible. They will work with you and your situation.
Cleaning Your Phone in the Time of Coronavirus
Let’s face it, everyone knows how filthy our cell phones can be, but if you’ve been neglecting cleaning your phone, now is a good time to start. The coronavirus can survive on various surfaces for several days—and that includes your cell phone. If you’re wiping down shopping carts and door handles, why aren’t you wiping down the device you not only touch but hold against your cheek? Check out the video below to see a couple of ways to disinfect your phone.