With wide swaths of the United States now fully enveloped in the coronavirus frenzy, just about everything is in flux, from stock market dips to cancelled sporting events to TV productions shutting down. And from the chaos rises the often derided mega-corporation Comcast, which has announced it will be providing certain new customers free introductory internet plans, and that it will be boosting the speeds for that plan as well.
Here's the lowdown: Comcast is aiming to help out low-income families during the coronavirus crisis, with many people across the country being sent home from work in efforts to stop things from spreading. So the company is offering its bottom-tier Internet Essentials package as a complimentary service to all low-income families who sign up for it. The plan usually costs $9.95 a month.
Comcast's agreement is currently set for new customers to get free internet provided to them for 60 days, so that should allow for access until mid-May, by which point there will hopefully be a conclusion for the coronavirus situation. It'll save each family around $20, which can make a big difference for families whose bills more or less equal their monthly wages.
What's more, Comcast is raising the data speeds for its Internet Essentials package, with the understanding that many people will likely be homebound for the foreseeable future as attempts are made to contain the outbreak. While the download/upload speeds usually top out at 15/2 Mbps, Comcast says the speeds have been increased to 25/3 Mbps. It was confirmed that the increased speeds will be rolled out for all existing Internet Essentials customers, and not just new ones.
Here's how Comcast explained the decision to lower the Internet Essentials prices:
As our country continues to manage the COVID-19 emergency, we recognize that our company plays an important role in helping our customers stay connected – to their families, their workplaces, their schools, and the latest information about the virus – through the Internet.
We also know that for millions of low-income Americans who don’t have Internet service at home, this uncertain time is going to be even more difficult to manage. As schools and businesses close and families are encouraged, or even mandated, to stay home, Internet connectivity becomes even more important.
New customers who sign up at the Internet Essentials website will get a cable modem with a WiFi router in the mail. No contracts will need to be signed for the equipment, and there are no shipping or handling fees to pay.
While Comcast is usually one of the most derided corporations out there when it comes to squeezing dollars out of customers, this latest decision to put others' needs ahead of the bottom line is a huge step in the right direction. Here's hoping more customer-friendly announcements will come in the future, and without a global crisis influencing that decision.
Elsewhere, AT&T has announced it won't be charging customers for data overages in their plans, and is currently waiving all data caps. But according to ARSTechnica, Comcast had not yet made any moves to also eliminate data caps.
Everybody is going to likely be doing a lot of TV and movie streaming in the coming weeks, so having steady Internet will be quite a valuable commodity as people try to stream the Season 3 premiere of Westworld, Netflix's new show 100 Humans, the latest episode of Disney+'s Star Wars: The Clone Wars and more. Check out all the great March premieres from Netflix, and stay healthy!