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FCC creates internet safety net amid coronavirus fears


Huffington Post

Today, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced the Keep Americans Connected Pledge amid the current coronavirus pandemic. According to The Verge, this pledge is a new telecom industry measure developed to prevent potentially abusive US internet business practices.

For the next 60 days, the FCC is asking companies to refrain from handing out late fees or terminating connectivity for citizens and small business owners suffering from adverse economic effects due to the coronavirus outbreak. The pledge also wants to open access to public Wi-Fi hotspots to those who may need them across the country.

“As the coronavirus outbreak spreads and causes a series of disruptions to the economic, educational, medical, and civic life of our country, it is imperative that Americans stay connected,” Pai said in a statement. “Broadband will enable them to communicate with their loved ones and doctors, telework, ensure their children can engage in remote learning, and — importantly — take part in the ‘social distancing’ that will be so critical to limiting the spread of this novel coronavirus.”

Pai claims nearly every major US company in the industry has already committed to the pledge. Some of these companies include AT&T, Charter, CenturyLink, Comcast, Cox, Sonic, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.

Read also: How to clean and disinfect your phone to help prevent the spread of germs

Though this is excellent news for the American public, it’s fairly ironic given Pai’s stance on net neutrality. In recent years, Pai and other members of the FCC have adamantly fought against net neutrality. Now, the newly announced Keep Americans Connected Pledge effectively institutes many of those same principles, albeit only for 60 days.

While it’s unfortunate something like the coronavirus pandemic had to happen for some members of the FCC to see the value in these net neutrality ideals, this pledge is a much welcome economic measure during this confusing time.

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