While hundreds of broadband providers and telcos have signed on to the Federal Communications Commission’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge, the commission has reportedly received hundreds of complaints so far.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told the House Energy and Commerce Committee that of the roughly 2,000 complaints the commission has received connected to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, about 500 of those are directly related to the FCC’s pledge, which more than 750 providers have signed on to so far.
To recap, the FCC’s pledge calls for companies to not terminate services for residential and small business customers if they’re unable to pay bills because of pandemic-related issues. They also agree to waive fees incurred due to economic situations related to the pandemic, and agree to open WiFi hotspots to the public. Initially, the pledge was designed to last for 60 days, but was recently extended to June 30th.
Pai told the committee most complaints have been resolved. The FCC reportedly forwards complaints to the appropriate broadband provider or telco, and those companies then have 30 days to respond. Overall, Pai called the pledge and the response from companies a “big win for the American people.”
“Based on the feedback we’ve received, the Pledge has been critical to maintaining connectivity for millions of Americans,” he said in a statement to the committee.
Despite the pledge, many have called for providers to go beyond what they’re currently offering. Earlier this month, a group of senators called on Comcast to open more of its Xfinity hotspots to the public. In a letter to Comcast, the senators point out the company has only opened WiFi hotspots in public locations like shopping centers, where the benefit to residential users is likely low. They also call out the fact the Comcast has not opened up its extensive residential network, where public WiFi access is built into the millions of routers it rents to customers.
The senators have asked Comcast to respond to questions by May 22nd and we’ll keep you updated on any developments. As for other broadband and telco providers, have you run into issues with billing, fees, or service terminations? Let us know in the comments below.
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