Verizon is now extending its waiver of late fees and terminations to keep customers connected in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. For customers who notify the company, those fees and line cancellation will now be extended through June 30.
The overall goal here is to ensure that customers can stay in contact with loved ones and work. More directly, that's even if they can't pay their bills due to circumstances stemming from ongoing stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders.
In the US alone, as many as 960,916 confirmed cases have been reported according to WHO. It's resulted in as many as 49,170 deaths, as of this writing. Those numbers will still be rising, although the extent of that is less certain, for weeks, months, and possibly years. But the figures don't account for job losses, school closures, and other disruptions. Those are likely to continue over a similar timescale as well.
Verizon's extension applies across the board, up to its offerings to small businesses. So customers on its network will undoubtedly want to take advantage of Verizon's extension and other measures and those of other carriers.
What exactly is this extending?
Now, Verizon isn't the only company offering a reprieve for its users in the wake of the global pandemic. This measure is part of a larger "Keep Americans Connected" pledge from the FCC. Verizon, AT&T, Charter, CenturyLink, Comcast, Cox, Sonic, Sprint, and T-Mobile — among others — signed onto the pledge last month.
The response from carriers isn't necessarily new either. Verizon and others have historically offered concessions to customers to keep everybody connected during natural disasters. That's held true for hurricanes, earthquakes, wildfires, and other events. Moreover, several of the carriers, including Verizon, are active participants in ensuring that emergency responders are connected through disasters.
There are a few differences with this response since a pandemic is effectively new ground for carriers. Not only is the ongoing health crisis impacting the economy and causing the cancellation of events — mobile or otherwise. The impacts of Coronavirus, as indicated above, are ongoing and are impacting a much wider swath of the US.
The economic implications are that businesses are shut down and users are out of work nationwide. That leaves consumers unable both to travel and to work — leaving little recourse for keeping communication open. The FCC's request counters that. It asks both carriers and internet service providers to not cancel service for their customers and not to impose service fees that could compound economic stresses.
Struggling Verizon users will need to notify the company of their hardships to get the waiver
Verizon does specify that its customers will need to notify the company about their hardships. That means that users will need to visit the appropriate page — more information on that can be found here — or call to take full advantage of the extended waiver. They'll also want to pause their auto-pay schedule on their Verizon account if they've set that up. That applies to postpaid wireless, residential, and small business customers with 50 lines or fewer.