In response to the coronavirus outbreak, which has now been declared a pandemic, AT&T will be suspending data caps for its broadband internet customers. The company will not charge any data overage fees to subscribers who don't already have unlimited access.
AT&T currently offers several home internet plans with data caps ranging from 150GB to 1TB per month. Going over those limits can result in overage fees of $10 for every extra 50GB, up to a maximum of $100 or $200 per month, depending on the plan. AT&T also offers an unlimited home internet plan with no data usage cap.
“Many of our AT&T Internet customers already have unlimited home internet access, and we are waiving internet data overage for the remaining customers,” a company spokesperson tells Motherboard.
Note that AT&T's home internet plans are different from its mobile data plans. It's unclear if the company plans to waive the data caps and speed limits imposed on its mobile service.
AT&T suspends broadband data caps
The spread of the novel coronavirus has had a grave impact worldwide. A wave of event cancellations last month was followed by suspension of major sporting leagues.
Some leagues, meanwhile, are being played behind closed doors, with no fans in attendance. Many industries and factories have been shut down.
The Trump administration on Thursday announced a ban on most travel from Europe to the US. State officials have also declared states of emergency. Educational institutions and offices have been asked to remain closed at least for the next week.
Such restrictions mean citizens are forced to work and learn at home. This would result in higher data consumption, and consequently, increase the financial burden on consumers.
In the wake of this situation, a group of 18 US Senators on Thursday sent a letter to the heads of the nation's eight biggest internet service providers (ISP) asking them to suspend broadband data caps and throttling during the coronavirus crisis.
"We ask that you temporarily suspend broadband caps and associated fees or throttling for all communities affected by COVID-19 and work with public school districts, colleges, and universities to provide free, or at-cost, broadband options for students whose schools close due to COVID-19 who don’t have access at home,” the Senators wrote in the letter addressed to the chief executives of AT&T, Cox, Charter, Sprint, T-Mobile, Comcast, Verizon, and CenturyLink.
AT&T quickly announced that it will be suspending all broadband usage caps until further notice. Other ISPs should follow the suit soon.