How Carriers Are Responding to COVID-19

The FCC and mobile companies alike are doing their utmost to help you stay connected and relieve financial stress during this trying time. The FCC has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic with a new program called Keep Americans Connected, and the Big Four plus U.S. Cellular have pledged to adhere to its guidelines. Moreover, some carriers have gone above and beyond by adding new customer benefits of their own.

Keep Americans Connected

The FCC released its pledge to ensure that every American has internet and cellular access during these trying times, regardless of your ability to pay. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile promise their support through June 30th, 2020, and U.S. Cellular through July 31st.

Please note that this pledge applies to those experiencing coronavirus-related hardships, such as underemployment or a lack of ability to pay for the mobile and broadband services required to stay connected to loved ones, doctors, schools, or workplaces while practicing social distancing.

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The FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge

– Mobile service will not be terminated due to a customer’s inability to pay.
– All late fees will be waived.
– Public WiFi hotspots will be available to any American who needs them.

Carriers have added to the above pledge in an effort to further assist their customers during these difficult times. Each carrier is also reducing its number of stores open to the public while decreasing operating hours in an effort to practice social distancing. Those hours can also be found below.

Verizon Wireless’ COVID-19 Response

Verizon Wireless is urging customers to reach out to representatives online or via phone, as the carrier is keeping a limited amount of stores open to the public at this time. If you need to visit a Verizon store, open stores will adhere to a strict one-to-one ratio of customers allowed in the store to employees within the store. All other customers will need to wait outside. Verizon’s remaining stores will have new hours, which are:

  • Monday to Saturday – 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Sunday – Closed

Verizon Wireless wants to help its customers through these challenging times by adding to the pledge in the following ways:

  • Postpaid limited data plans will have unlimited data; eligible customers will receive a text message from Verizon.
  • Free international calling (mobile and landlines) to countries identified by the CDC as level 3 impacted.
  • Free international calling to Iran, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovenia will be limited to 300 minutes of free calls per month.
  • Prepaid wireless customers will get 300 additional minutes to call level 3 countries.
  • New lines of service and upgrade fees will be waived; this applies to new purchase and service-only activations.
  • Customers on a limited data plan will automatically get an additional 15GB of data.
  • Customers on an unlimited data plan will automatically get 15GB of hotspot data added to their plan.

All pledge benefits on the above list will be in effect until June 30th, 2020.

Sprint’s COVID-19 Response

Sprint has closed many stores, but some stores will remain open with the following new hours:

  • Monday to Saturday – 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Sunday – 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Sprint wants to be there for its customers during this difficult time. The carrier is adding to the pledge with the following coronavirus response:

  • Customers with limited data plans will have unlimited data for 60 days.
  • All customers with hotspot-capable devices will get 20GB of free mobile hotspot for 60 days.
  • Per-minute tolls will be waived for international long-distance calls to level 3 countries.
  • Free activation, zero upgrade fees, and free next-day shipping.
  • Sprint is working with T-Mobile to give customers more nationwide coverage.

All pledge benefits on the above list will be in effect until June 30th, 2020.

T-Mobile’s COVID-19 Response

T-Mobile has closed 80% of company-owned stores until March 31. The remaining 20% of T-Mobile-owned stores will experience reduced hours, which are:

  • Monday to Saturday – 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Sunday – 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm

T-Mobile wants to support its customers during the COVID-19 pandemic by adding to the pledge. The carrier’s coronavirus response includes:

  • Appointments can be made via T-Mobile’s “store locator” page, offering curbside assistance with payments, activations, new lines, upgrades, and more.
  • Customers can speak with Retail Mobile Experts through T-Mobile’s website, Apple Business Chat, or FB messenger to activate or add new lines to their accounts
  • Retail Mobile Experts will assist with payments, product/service questions, upgrades, and more, beginning April 13th, 2020.
  • Customers with limited data plans will get unlimited data.
  • All customers will get an additional 20GB of hotspot data, 10GB each month.
  • Lifeline partners will get 5GB of extra free data.
  • Those on the EmpowerED digital learning program will have access to at least 20GB of data per month.
  • All customers will get free shipping on device orders—this is to cut down on store visits.
  • Customers will get free international calling to many countries.
  • Increased network capacity.
  • Sprint customers will have access to T-Mobile’s network.
  • A new prepaid plan that offers 2GB/month with unlimited talk and text has been added in response to COVID-19, but will remain a permanent T-Mobile plan.
  • T-Mobile will donate $1 for every post on Twitter using #GiveThanksNotPranks and tagging @TMobile, up to $200,000. You can also text THANKS to 50555 to donate $5 and T-Mobile will match those donations up to $300,000. Anyone can text to participate, including non-T-Mobile customers.

All pledge benefits on the above list will be in effect until June 30th, 2020.

AT&T’s COVID-19 Response

AT&T has closed many stores, with a pledge to keep one open per 20- to 30-mile radius. The open stores will have the following schedule:

  • Monday to Saturday – 11:00 am to 7:00 pm
  • Sunday – Closed

AT&T wants to help its customers through this trying time by adding to the pledge in the following ways:

  • Overage charges for domestic data, talk, or text will be waived.
  • Customers on prepaid capped data plans* will get an additional 10GB of monthly data until (around) May 26.
  • Customers on prepaid Unlimited Plus Plan with mobile hotspot data will get an additional 10GB of monthly data until (around) May 26.
  • For a limited time, sign up for AT&T’s new prepaid plan that will give you 2GB of data, as well as unlimited talk and text for just $15/month with no activation fee.
  • Customers on an unlimited data plan that includes a hotspot allowance will get an additional 15GB of hotspot data added to their plan.

All pledge benefits on the above list will be in effect until June 30th, 2020.

*Excludes limited time offer and data-only plans.

U.S. Cellular’s COVID-19 Response

All U.S. Cellular store hours have been reduced. The new store hours are:

  • Monday to Saturday – 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
  • Sunday – 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm

COVID-19 Responses from Other Carriers

The following carriers did not sign the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge, but they are still responding to the situation by making immediate changes to assist their customers during these challenging times:

  • Boost Mobile
  • Metro by T-Mobile
  • Mint Mobile
  • Cricket Wireless
  • Consumer Cellular

Boost Mobile’s COVID-19 Response

Boost Mobile has stated that its customer service centers are currently experiencing a high volume of calls, so the carrier requests that you use the Boost Mobile site and/or your Boost Mobile app if possible.

  • If you cannot make a payment, Boost Mobile asks that you contact them to discuss your situation as soon as possible.
  • Customers will receive free international calling to countries defined by the CDC as level 3 impacted.
  • All reconnection fees will be waived for customers.
  • Customers on a Boost unlimited data plan will automatically receive an additional 20GB of mobile hotspot.
  • Customers on a tiered data plan with Boost will automatically receive an additional 20GB of data.

All benefits on the above list will be in effect until (around) April 30.

Metro by T-Mobile’s COVID-19 Response

While some Metro by T-Mobile stores have closed through March 31, some will remain open. The carrier is also working on making online mobile device purchasing available as soon as possible.

  • If you cannot make a payment, Metro by T-Mobile asks that you contact them to discuss your situation as soon as possible.
  • Customers with limited data plans will receive unlimited data.
  • Customers on smartphone plans with mobile hotspot will get an additional 20GB of hotspot data (10GB each month).
  • Customers will receive free international calling to many countries.
  • Metro’s 2GB/month plan with unlimited talk and text is now 50% off.

All benefits on this list will be in effect until (around) May 13.

Cricket Wireless’ COVID-19 Response

While many Cricket Wireless stores will remain open, all indoor mall locations will be closed until (around) April 1. Open stores will adjust their hours to the following:

  • Monday to Saturday – 11:00 am to 7:00 pm
  • Sunday – Closed

Cricket wants to help new and existing customers through the pandemic by making the following changes:

  • Waive reactivation fees for customers and extend payment due dates by seven days via BridgePay.
  • A limited time only, 2GB/month plan with unlimited talk and text for $15/month with activation fees waived will be made available to new and existing customers.
  • New and existing customers with capped data plans will get an additional 10GB of data each month for two billing cycles.
  • Customers with unlimited data plans will get an additional 10GB of hotspot data for two billing cycles.

All benefits on this list will be in effect until (around) May 26.

Other MVNO Announcements

Every day, more and more MVNOs are responding to COVID-19 with accommodations. Check out some other coronavirus responses below:

  • Mint Mobile customers will get free unlimited high-speed data add-ons until April 14 (if you downgrade your plan to a lower data amount during this time, you will no longer have access to free add-ons).
  • Consumer Cellular is adhering to the Keep Americans Connected Pledge until April 30 and will more than double the amount of data included in its largest plan—moving it from 25GB/month to 55GB/month.
  • Tello will be providing double data for all customers in the coming months.