ISPs in the US are planning to reinstate broadband data caps after lifting them back in March for customers working from home during the pandemic.
The news comes at a time when the coronavirus continues to spread across the country and many employees are still working remotely to avoid potentially contracting the virus.
Back in March, the FCC launched an initiative called the Keep Americans Connected Pledge which urged broadband providers to take necessary steps to help keep the country connected during the pandemic. These steps included not terminating customers’ broadband service even when they were unable to pay, waiving late fees and opening up Wi-Fi hotspots.
While AT&T was the first major ISP to lift home broadband data caps, other companies including T-Mobile and Comcast quickly followed suit and almost 800 service providers joined the FCC’s initiative.
Reinstating data caps
The reason that many ISPs are planning to reinstate data caps is due to the fact that they can, since the Keep Americans Connected Pledge will expire at the end of June.
In a letter to the US Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, FCC chairman Ajit Pai explained that he has called on broadband and telephone providers to continue to uphold some parts of the pledge even as it’s set to expire, saying:
“As we transition out of the Pledge, I have called on broadband and telephone service providers to take steps to help ensure that American consumers and small businesses remain connected over the coming months. Specifically, I have asked these providers not to disconnect in July consumers and small businesses who have fallen behind on their bills as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, I have urged them to place such consumers into payment plans and deferred payment arrangements to ensure that these consumers have a chance to catch up. I have also asked them to maintain and expand their plans for low-income families and veterans as well as their remote learning plans for students.”
The pandemic showed us once and for all that data caps aren’t really necessary but unfortunately it looks like we will all have to deal with them again soon.