New Connectivity Resources to Support You during the COVID-19 State of Emergency in Vermont

The Department of Public Service is collecting information and resources on the availability of Internet and telecommunications services during the COVID-19 emergency. This webpage will include information about what cable, telephone/DSL/fiber, and mobile carriers are doing to assist consumers and places where consumers can find internet access and be updated as new information becomes available.

The PSD has developed a map of libraries, local and state buildings, and schools offering free, open Wi-Fi internet access.


 


Actions Regarding Internet/Data Service Taken by Telecommunications Companies Operating in Vermont

Cable Companies

  • Burlington Telecom
    •  Does not apply late fees as a normal business practice
    • Has opened all Wi-Fi hotspots to any person who needs them
    • Worked with the Burlington School District and is offering free 25 Mbps symmetrical Internet access, a WiFi device and installation to any family with a serviceable address (normal installation) and with school-aged children who do not have home Internet to promote and support remote learning, as long as schools are conducting remote learning associated with the coronavirus pandemic
  • Charter
    • Charter will open its Wi-Fi hotspots across its footprint for public use. Map of Charter Wi-Fi hotspots 
    • Charter is waiving a portion of the past due balance for customers who weren’t able to pay their broadband bill due to the pandemic.
  • Comcast
  • Southern Vermont Cable
    • ​Not performing any non-pay disconnection to any residential or business customers for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency 
    • No data caps
    • Waiving internet upgrade fees for all as long as an equipment change is not required
       
  • Stowe Cable
    • Three Stowe hotspots are located along Main Street from the UPS store on South Main Street to the law offices of Stackpole and French on Maple Street. These hotspots give adequate coverage to the majority of downtown Stowe.

    • There is a Jeffersonville hot spot that can be accessed on Main Street and the majority of Church Street. There seems to be a dead spot from the Town Offices on Church Street to the intersection of Route 15 and Madonna Mobil.

  • Vermont Telphone/VTel 

  • Waitsfield/Champlain Valley Telecom
    • Is working with our local schools to ensure those who don’t currently have Internet access and Wi-Fi at their homes are connected at no cost  
    • Has various locations where Community Wi-Fi is available to keep our communities connected.  Free Wi-Fi is available at these locations from a parked car.  Please remember to always practice social distancing while using the Community Wi-Fi to keep everyone in our community safe.
    • Will not terminate service to any residential or business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic
    • Is waiving any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic

Telephone/DSL/Fiber

On March 18, 2020, the Public Utility Commission ordered a temporary moratorium on involuntary disconnections of regulated residential utility services --  including landline telephone service -- until April 30, 2020. On March 27, 2020, the Public Utility Commission extended the moratorium to include (among others) non-residential landline telephone service. The incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECS) impacted by the moratorium are Consolidated Communications, Inc., Franklin Telephone Company, Ludlow Telephone Company (TDS Telecom)*, Northfield Telephone Company (TDS Telecom)*, Perkinsville Telephone Company (TDS Telecom)*, Shoreham Telephone, LLC (OTT Communications), Topsham Telephone Company, Vermont Telephone Company (VTel), and Waitsfield/Champlain Valley Telecom (WFCVT). Burlington Telecom, although not an ILEC, is also subject to the moratorium on telephone disconnections until at least April 30, 2020. On May 28, 2020, by order of the Public Utility Commission, the moratorium was extended to July 31,2020.   Over the course of the next several months, the Commission issued additional Orders that extended and expanded the protections in that Order until October 15, 2020.   On October 8, 2020, the Commission lifted the moratorium, effective October 15, 2020, while also ordering new, mandatory consumer protections for utility customers who are facing economic hardships as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  On December 22, 2020, the Public Utilities Commission issued a moratorium on disconnections for certain utilities to expire on March 31, 2021.  This moratorium on disconnections has been extended to May 31, 2021. 

Information for the companies below is regarding internet/data services 

  • CenturyLink

    • Suspending data usage limits due to COVID-19

    • Will work with medium businesses with over 50 employees and large businesses impacted by COVID-19 on a case-by-case basis to best support their needs

  • Consolidated Communications

    • Two months of Free Home Internet Service, including free installation for households with students who are not currently Consolidated customers

    • Is willing to work with any business that is experiencing a financial hardship caused by the coronavirus to keep them connected

  • EC Fiber
    • Will be doing no disconnects of service for businesses or residences until further notice.
    • Until further notice, ValleyNet, the non-profit company that designs, builds and operates the fiber-to-the-home network for ECFiber, will install internet to any serviceable address at no cost to families whose school-age children are eligible for WIC or Reduced/Free Lunch programs at school and are new subscribers.  This applies to Aerial drops only and can not be extended to underground services at this time. The internet service will also be provided at no cost through the end of June.  The program will prioritize households with one or more children enrolled in grades 6-12, on roads where ECFiber is now or imminently about to be available.  
  • FirstLight 
    • Is also proactively reaching out to its customers to understand their needs and working closely with them to quickly increase network capacity where and when possible 
    • Additionally, is offering free trial periods on certain services that will help facilitate remote working arrangements such as Cisco’s Webex as well as Cisco’s Umbrella
  • Franklin Telephone
    • No increases in speed or capacity planned at this time but the company will be proactive if technically available
    • There are no data caps to remove
    • Wi-Fi Hotspot at the Haston Library & Franklin General Store. New Hot Spot soon to be deployed on Main Street.
    • There are no connection fees 
  • Otelco (Shoreham Telephone) 
    • ​Has no data caps (not currently) so there are none to remove 
  • TDS (Ludlow, Northfield, and Perkinsville Telephone)

    • Providing free internet service, modem, and installation for new qualifying residential customers

    • Honoring free internet offers for TDS residential customers that are disconnecting due to similar free internet offers from other companies

  • Vermont Telephone Company/VTel

Cell Service/Mobile Broadband

  • CTIA: Keeping Us Connected Through COVID-19
  • AT&T
    • AT&T has suspended data caps for fixed internet service
    • AT&T will keep our public Wi-Fi hotspots open for any American who needs them
    • AT&T World Connect Advantage – Business customers currently on or who purchase an AT&T World Connect Advantage package receive 50% off the current rate in a monthly bill credit (max $7.50/month)
    • Helping You Work and Learn Remotely – Businesses, universities, and schools can keep their teams and classrooms connected through conference calls and video conferencing with Cisco Webex Meetings with AT&T for 90 days, and seamlessly forward calls to both mobile and landline phones with AT&T IP Flexible Reach
    • Distance Learning – AT&T is underwriting expenses for a “one-stop” resource center to support eLearning Days from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) available to all educators in schools to help them handle school closures and the increase in virtual learning due to COVID-19
  • Cricket Wireless
    • We’re automatically waiving the reactivation fee and the Automated Phone System fee that applies to service payments

    • We offer BridgePay, which lets you split your current bill into two payments, giving you an additional 7 days to pay

    • We’re automatically adding data for new and existing customers to capped and unlimited voice and data plans for a limited time

    • We have a new $15 2 GB plan available as a limited time offer​

  • Sprint
    • Providing Unlimited data for 60 days to customers with metered data plans (effective 3/18)
    • Giving 20 GB of free mobile hotspot use to customers with hotspot-capable devices (effective 3/18)
    • E-LEARNING INITITATIVE: Sprint’s 1Million Project Foundation, which supports 350,000 high school students who lack critical internet access at home, is working to accelerate receipt of more than 100,000 new devices intended for use next school year so that it can deploy them as soon as possible to respond to the new environment.
  • T-Mobile
    • T-Mobile will waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic

    • T-Mobile will open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them

    • All current T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile wireless customers who have cell phone plans with data will be granted unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days (excluding roaming). They'll also receive an additional 20 GB of mobile hot spot/tethering service for those two months.

    • The company is working to provide Lifeline low-income customers with up to 5 GB of free data per month over the next two months. 

    • E-LEARNING INITIATIVE: T-Mobile is increasing the data allowance for free to schools and students using our EmpowerED digital learning programs to ensure each participant has access to at least 20 GB of data per month for the next 60 days. 

    • T-Mobile will launch its budget Connect plan on March 25th. The prepaid package will deliver unlimited talk and text as well as 2GB of data for $15 per month (or 5GB for $25)

  • US Cellular
    • US Cellular will not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic
    • US Cellular will waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic

Verizon

​Adding 15GB of high speed data for wireless consumer and small business customers to be automatically applied with no customer action necessary

  • Announces two months waived internet and voice service charges for current Lifeline customers and new affordable internet option for low-income households

  • E-LEARNING INITIATIVE: Verizon announced support for relief efforts across communities impacted by the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic by tripling its monthly data allowance for its Verizon Innovative Learning schools and committing $10 million to nonprofits directed at supporting students and first responders

  • Verizon expanded efforts to aid consumers dealing with work-from-home and shelter-in-place realities with the More at Home...on Us program, which provides learning tools from Quizlet, Epic and Chegg Study, as well as entertainment channels such as SHOWTIME and Epix, among others

  • Verizon is committing $5 million to ensure students from low-income families have access to healthy meals while their schools are closed and another $5 million to support healthcare workers on the frontlines

  •  Verizon is automatically enrolling customers who signed up for the Pledge into a program that will allow repayment of past due balances over time.