In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the challenges that many Americans have faced, FCC announced the Keep Americans Connected Initiative. In order
to ensure that Americans do not lose their broadband or telephone connectivity
as a result of these exceptional circumstances, he specifically asked broadband
and telephone service providers, and trade associations, to take the Keep
Americans Connected Pledge.
So far, more than
companies and associations have signed the pledge to Keep Americans Connected.
The Keep Americans Connected Pledge reads as follows:
Given the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on American society, [Company Name] pledges to:
- Not terminate service 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.
The FCC has also urged companies with low-income broadband programs to expand and improve them and those without them to adopt such programs. He called on broadband providers to relax their data usage limits in appropriate circumstances and take steps to
More Ways the FCC is Keeping Americans Connected
On April 2, the FCC established a $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program to
help health care providers provide connected care services to patients at their
homes or mobile locations in response to the pandemic. Congress appropriated
the funds as part of the CARES Act. The Program will provide immediate support
to eligible health care providers responding to the pandemic by fully funding
their telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary
to provide critical connected care services. To learn more about eligibility
The FCC and the Department of Education are working to promote the use of $16
billion in funding from the CARES Act’s Education Stabilization Fund for remote
learning. Through the effort, the agencies will work with governors, states,
and local school districts as they leverage funding to best help students
learning from home during COVID-19.
The FCC has granted temporary authority to a number of wireless companies to
use additional spectrum in order to ensure that they are able to meet their
customers’ needs. It granted Special Temporary Authority to allow 33 wireless
Internet service providers in rural communities as well as AT&T, Sprint,
T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon, and others to use additional spectrum to help
meet increased customer demand for broadband during the coronavirus pandemic.
The FCC waived gift rules in the Rural Health Care and E-Rate programs to make
it easier for broadband providers to support telehealth and remote learning
efforts during the pandemic. The waiver will allow healthcare providers,
schools, and libraries to accept improved capacity, Wi-Fi hotspots, networking
gear, or other equipment or services to support doctors and patients, teachers
and students, and librarians and patrons during the coronavirus outbreak.
The FCC adopted an Order to fully fund all eligible Rural Health Care Program
services for the current funding year with an additional $42.19 million. This
action will help ensure that healthcare providers have the resources they need
to promote telehealth solutions for patients during this outbreak. In addition,
participants, including extending the application window until June 30, 2020,
among other administrative deadlines.
The FCC has taken action to help ensure that no current Lifeline subscribers
are involuntarily removed from the Lifeline program during the coronavirus
pandemic by waiving several rules that could otherwise result in de-enrollment
of subscribers. The FCC has also waived Lifeline program rules to assist
program participants potentially affected by the disruptions caused by the
coronavirus pandemic and aid community efforts to slow its spread.
The FCC issued a temporary waiver of its access arbitrage rules to Inteliquent,
a telecommunications company that carries traffic for two of the nation’s
largest conference calling providers, Zoom Video Communications and Cisco
WebEx. The massive increase in conference calls made by consumers using Zoom
and WebEx to work and attend classes from home during the COVID-19 pandemic
would have likely resulted in Inteliquent being deemed an “access-stimulating”
carrier under the FCC’s rules.
The FCC granted Telecommunications Relay Service providers temporary waivers to
better enable American Sign Language interpreters to work from home in order to
maintain relay services during the current coronavirus pandemic for individuals
who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind, or have a speech disability.
The FCC is working to keep Americans informed about the latest COVID-19 phone
and text based scams.
. In addition, the FCC has issued a
that provides tips to consumers to help them
optimize their home networks during the pandemic.