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.


FCC Keep Americans Connected Pledge 

Given the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on American society, each of these Vermont companies on March13, 2020, pledged for the next 60 days to Keep Americans Connected. Each company pledges to not terminate internet/data 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; waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic; and open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them: CenturyLink, Comcast, Consolidated Communications, FirstLight, Sprint, AT&T, BT Telecom/Schurz Communications, TDS Telecom, US Cellular, Verizon, Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom


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

Cable Companies

  • Burlington Telecom
    • Will extend the FCC Pledge to June 30, 2020 to not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their Internet or phone bill due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic
    • 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
    • Considers all business customers to be small businesses and will not disconnect service under the Keep Americans Connected pledge
  • Charter
    • Charter will not disconnect any of their services for the next 60 days as of March 16, 2020 to residential customers or small businesses (entities with 50 or less employees) because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Charter will not charge late fees for those customers facing difficult economic circumstances related to the pandemic.
    • Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days as of March 16, 2020 to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription and at any service level up to 100 Mbps. The installation fees will be waived for new student households.
    • Beginning March 16, 2020 for 60 days Charter will significantly expand access to high speed broadband for households that include K-12 and college students, and we are working with school districts and public libraries on remote learning opportunities.
    • Charter will open its Wi-Fi hotspots across its footprint for public use. Map of Charter Wi-Fi hotspots
  • Comcast
    • Has launched its Xfinity Assistance Plan, which accommodates our customers who are delinquent in payment due to COVID-19 to continue to receive Xfinity Internet and Voice service without disconnection when you contact us.
    • Additionally, if a customer only has Xfinity Video, or Xfinity Video and Xfinity Voice service, their service will remain unaffected during this time.
    • Xfinity WiFi hotspots across the country will be available to anyone who needs them for free – including non-Xfinity Internet subscribers. Map of Xfinity WiFi hotspots
    • Pausing data plans until June 30, 2020 giving all customers Unlimited data for no additional charge
    • Comcast's Internet Essentials Free to New Customers until June  30,2020 - 25/3 Mbps Broadband
    • Xfinity is now offering eligible university students who live in our service areas and need internet service, a Visa prepaid card worth about two months of internet service. No upfront fees, no installation costs. After signing up for this select offer, within a few days they’ll get an internet self-install kit, and a few weeks later they’ll receive a $150 Visa prepaid card with a value of about two months of internet service.  This offer is available to college students who live in households that are not already Xfinity customers, through June 1st.
  • Duncan Cable
    • No disconnections:    Duncan Telecommunications has extended all disconnections for nonpay from the normal 30 days past due to 60. 
    • Duncan Telecommunication's  "Standard Broadband Service" includes 350 Gig of bandwidth per month, upgradeable to a Terabyte.  Duncan Telecommunication's  FTTH does not have any data caps​
  • 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.

  • 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. 

*Is also suspending usage-based billing.

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

    • Has extended the FCC pledge to Keep America Connected they took to June 30, 2020.

  • 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 voluntarily staying disconnections for business customers through April 30, 2020 during the State of Emergency
    • 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 
    • Through its Free Student Internet program if you have a student in need and don’t have Internet already and meet certain income qualifications, Otelco will provide the highest DSL or Cable speed available at your location for 60 days at no charge.
  • TDS (Ludlow, Northfield, and Perkinsville Telephone)

  • Vermont Telephone Company/VTel
    • Increased network speeds/capacity to Vermont high schools and hospitals

Cell Service/Mobile Broadband

  • CTIA: Keeping Us Connected Through COVID-19
  • AT&T
    • Has committed to the Keep Americans Connected pledge and consumers and small business that can’t pay their bills because of the pandemic will not be terminated or assessed late fees. Small business customers are those who sign our AT&T Mobile Business Agreement and have at least one Corporate Responsibility User (CRU) account.
    • 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
    • Offers a $10/month Access from AT&T program for qualifying low-income households. Until June 30,2020 we will waive domestic wireless plan overage charges to those who have notified us for data, voice or text for residential or small business wireless customers incurred because of economic hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic
    • 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​

  • Q Link Wireless
    • Through 4-14-20, Q Link Wireless will be providing all current and new customers with FREE 5 GB high-speed data and Unlimited Talk and Text
    • ALL current Q Link Wireless customers who have plans with data will have 5 GB of Extra smartphone data and Unlimited Talk and Text until 4-14-20
  • 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 has pledged not to terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  If you contacted T-Mobile regarding your account you may contact them again after May 13,2020 to get an extension to June 30, 2020.​
    • 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

    • Extending through June 30 the commitment to waive late fees and to not terminate service for residential and small business customers who are unable to pay due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  Customers who have already signed up for these commitments under the Keep Americans Connected Pledge don’t need to do anything to take advantage of the extension, and other customers may sign up through June 30 as well.

    • 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