AT&T Lifts Broadband Data Caps in Light of COVID-19; Senators Demand Other Providers Follow Suit

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In light of the Coronavirus spreading throughout the U.S., AT&T has decided to lift broadband data caps for home internet users in the U.S, as reported by Vice. This is to ensure that those stuck at home due to closed workplaces, closed schools, or quarantines don't end up racking huge charges on additional internet usage that they otherwise wouldn't have dealt with. 

Meanwhile, a group of U.S. Senators is demanding that the other home broadband providers throughout the U.S. do the same, as part of a 'whole-of-society response.'

"No one should be penalized or suffer financial duress for following guidance from the CDC, their employer, local public health officials, or school leaders." reads the letter. "Unfortunately, many Americans are subject to restrictive data caps for their home broadband service -- caps that could be particularly onerous given the more intensive broadband usage of households practicing social distancing measures and the economic uncertainty for which too many people without paid sick leave are already bracing."

AT&T's broadband caps range from 150 GB to 1 TB for those not on an unlimited plan, and extra data costs $10 per added 50 GB, with a maximum of between $100 and $200 added charges per month.

“Many of our AT&T Internet customers already have unlimited home internet access, and we are waiving internet data overage for the remaining customers,” an AT&T spokesperson told Vice. 

This is a rather selfless move from the company, though very fair. Many businesses are suffering heavily from the Coronavirus outbreak, but due to people's dependence on certain products and services, companies such as AT&T can easily profit from the crisis be they inclined to do so. 

A few months back we thought the Coronavirus damage would remain limited to China. There, the local economy came to a standstill, with various factories closing and local demand plummeting. It is now clear that this same pattern is happening elsewhere in the world too, with Europe being hit as well as the U.S. 

With factories, schools, shops, cafes, and workplaces closed, lots of sectors are suffering immense financial damage from the 2019-nCov outbreak. As no single organization can be held responsible for the outbreak, and insurance doesn't cover nearly all of the damage wrought, everyone should do their part to ensure minimal economic damage. As such, we're seeing trends like these, where companies try their best to give back to the public. Examples are AT&T lifting broadband caps, MSI extending warranties by two months and the world's most powerful supercomputer being put to work on finding a cure. If you're willing to deal with a small added electricity cost, you can even donate your computer's leftover resources to help find a cure.

Of course, the best thing you can do to help is to ensure proper hygiene, and, if you suspect that you may have contracted the Coronavirus, stay home and do not come in contact with other people.

Meanwhile, we look forward to more companies offering up their methods of sharing the burden, especially those that are otherwise financially unaffected by the outbreak.

Niels Broekhuijsen

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.

  • cryoburner
    This is a rather selfless move from the company, though very fair.
    Or maybe they just want to get customers hooked on using more data, so when they re-implement the caps in a couple months they can rack up lots of overage fees. : D

    Really, the data doesn't actually costs them much to provide on their end, so it's not like they're making some valuable resource available for free. Any money they potentially lose from lost overage fees can be recouped by raising prices down the line, so it's not like it will cost them anything. And doing this nets them free advertising, so they have nothing to really lose from it.