Amid the pandemic, some ISPs aren’t honoring the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected pledge

The FCC is reviewing thousands of complaints related to COVID-19, including over 500 complaints related to the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected pledge. The voluntary pledge requires the signatories to not terminate services to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic; waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them. More than 750 companies and associations have signed the pledge.

However, a Law360 analysis found that some ISPs that signed the pledge are not consistently honoring it. About 40 percent of the COVID-19 related FCC complaints in the last three months were related to service disruptions, disconnections, and other ISP-related barriers to Internet access. For example, a customer requesting Spectrum’s 60-day billing suspension complained of being given less than 10 days to pay arrears. Another customer trying to sign-up for service without paying for the installation and pre-payment fees was quoted $3,530 by Spectrum. "It is very frustrating ... at this time of emergency, when my children are having to receive their education from home and are not able to access high-speed Internet," the customer wrote to the FCC.

In March, CWA and consumer advocacy groups sent a letter to major broadband, wireless, and cable CEOs urging them to lift data caps, waive data cap fees, and take other steps to facilitate access to essential communications services for all during the coronavirus public health emergency. 

Links:

Pai Says FCC Handling Thousands Of COVID-19 Complaints (Law360, May 20, 2020)

Despite Coronavirus Pledges, Customer ISP Issues Persist (Law360, Apr 24, 2020)

CWA, consumer advocacy groups urge broadband CEOs to lift data caps, waive fees (Speed Matters, Mar. 16, 2020)