Enlarge /. An AT&T sign outside a New York City office.
AT&T waived data restrictions for the Internet at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Many of our AT&T Internet customers already have unlimited Internet access at home, and we are not doing Internet data overruns for the remaining customers," said AT&T in a statement made today to Ars.
AT&T sets monthly data limits of 150 GB for DSL, 250 GB for fixed WiFi and 1 TB for most of its faster landline services. Average fees are $ 10 for each additional 50 GB, up to a maximum of $ 100 or $ 200 per month, depending on the plan.
AT&T provides customers with unlimited data if they subscribe to the gigabit speed level or purchase both Internet and TV services. There is also the option to pay an additional $ 30 per month for unlimited data.
We asked AT&T whether it plans to relax the data and speed limits imposed on the cellular service, but have not yet received an answer.
Including AT&T, we sent emails to 10 ISPs at home, on mobile devices, and via satellite this morning asking if they wanted to unblock or loosen data caps, while the coronavirus is forcing many students and staff to go home to stay.
Comcast, the largest home internet provider in the United States, has not told us whether to restrict data. Therefore, the upper limits are apparently still being enforced for the time being. Comcast announced today that it will increase the speed from 15Mbps download / 2Mbps upload to 25Mbps / 3Mbps on Internet Essentials, a low-income service for Americans. Comcast is offering new low income customers free Internet Essentials service for 60 days.
According to motherboard reporter Karl Bode, a Comcast representative said that "many conversations are currently ongoing" to be one step ahead of the outbreak, but could not confirm whether a usage restriction suspension was part of the company would play book. "
AT&T is the second largest provider that enforces data restrictions on home Internet services. In today's AT&T statement, it was also found that "Internet data will continue to be available to qualified households with limited income for $ 10 a month" by accessing the company through the AT&T discount service, but the company will not make any changes announced on this program.
The FCC Democrats are calling for the data cap to be waived
We also contacted the offices of all five FCC commissioners today. The two Democrats of the Republican Majority Commission contacted us and asked the ISPs to waive or loosen their data caps. The three Republicans, including Chairman Ajit Pai, have not commented on this.
FCC Democrat Geoffrey Starks called for a 60-day waiver of data caps:
Given the number of Americans who do telework, use telemedicine, attend online courses, and otherwise use the Internet more often, I urge broadband providers to waive data restrictions in affected communities for the next 60 days. This tailored approach will undoubtedly cost telecommunications companies, but recognizes the urgency of the moment. Measures taken by mobile operators are particularly important as 26 percent of low-income Americans have a smartphone, but no broadband at home. "
FCC Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel said that because of the corona virus, we will "investigate the expansion of teleworking, telemedicine and teleworking like we have never done before. This means connecting with the unconnected. It also means To relax things like data restrictions. " and fees that can prevent consumers from going online. The government and the private sector must face this challenge and do the right thing. Now is the time to act. "
FCC Republican Michael O & # 39; Rielly's office declined to comment when contacted by Ars. We haven't heard from Pai or FCC Republican Brendan Carr.
Eighteen US senators, all members of the Democratic Caucus, sent a letter to ISPs asking them to "temporarily suspend broadband restrictions and related fees or restrictions for all communities affected by COVID-19" and to the schools coordinate to make free or affordable broadband deals for students.
Mediacom, a cable company, told Ars that "it will provide 50 GB of additional data to all customers at all service levels by March 31st" and will "pick up on the topic" again in April to see if this policy expands or needs to be changed. "Mediacom's data caps are between 150GB and 6TB per month. Customers pay $ 10 for each additional 50GB block.
Cox referred us to a statement about coronavirus preparation, but did not waive data restrictions. A company spokesman told us we should expect another update today or tomorrow. "Students and remote workers are broadly focused on reviewing policy and service changes," said a Cox spokesman.
The owner of a sudden link, Altice, did not tell us if the data restrictions should be suspended. "We closely monitor network usage and evaluate all of our policies and procedures to best support our customers in this unprecedented time," said an Altice spokesman.
ISPs we're still waiting for include Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Sprint, HughesNet, and Viasat. We will provide updates from carriers as soon as we receive them.
Charter and Verizon do not impose any data limits or aging fees for the home internet service. Verizon and other companies set a number of restrictions on the use of high-speed data and hotspots for mobile services, even for "unlimited" plans.
Disclosure: The Advance / Newhouse partnership, which owns 13 percent of the charter, is part of Advance Publications. Advance Publications owns Condé Nast, which Ars Technica owns.