While hundreds of broadband companies and telcos have taken the Federal Communications Commission up on its Keep Americans Connected pledge, several of the deals on offer come with significant restrictions within the fine print. Case in point: Verizon’s offer of temporary free service for low-income households does not extend to the company’s DSL customers, Ars Technica reports.
In late March, Verizon announced a series of moves aimed at providing help and relief to customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, including removing monthly data caps and adding 15GB of free high-speed data. Among those options is an offer for two free months of internet and voice service for those on the company’s Lifeline assistance service. For new low-income subscribers outside the Lifeline service, a $20 discount brings 200 Mbps internet down to $19.99 per month. However, Ars reports that those offers are only available in the company’s FiOS service areas and not in its DSL regions.
The site also spoke to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, which has been recording the various low-cost offers companies have announced during the pandemic.
“By not including DSL, their most vulnerable customers are being left out of a valuable resource. This includes the low-income communities in underserved cities such as Buffalo and Baltimore,” Angela Siefer, NDIA’s executive director, told Ars.
The NDIA has also been issuing guidance and alerts regarding free and low-cost internet offers, offering pros and cons of offers from several providers. While Comcast generally fared well, companies like CenturyLink, Frontier, and Windstream earned criticism in a March 26th report for not offering COVID-19-related discounts.
Perhaps one takeaway from these offers and deals is that despite the announcements and proclamations of good will toward customers, these are still large corporations at the end of the day. And while many of these moves certainly provide relief to customers, it’s well worth digging into the fine print.
For those interested in seeing if they’re eligible for free or discounted service, you can check out the NDIA’s sortable list here.
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