Coronavirus, Local

Georgia Power, AT&T Among Providers Suspending Disconnections During Coronavirus Pandemic

Sprint, Comcast Xfinity and AT&T are offering disconnection grace periods for customers affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Sprint, Comcast Xfinity and AT&T are offering disconnection grace periods for customers affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
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Last updated March 18 at 4:02 p.m.

Metro Atlanta service providers are offering relief for those affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

This comes in handy for locals because the coronavirus pandemic is keeping many inside their homes due to social distancing measures. Responding to the outbreak is also hitting people’s wallets, as well.

From free unlimited internet data to extended grace periods, here’s how local utility, internet, and telephone service providers are helping their customers during this time.

On March 14, Georgia Power Co. started halting residential disconnections for the next 30 days, according to a March 13 news release. As time goes by, Georgia Power also plans to reassess the time frame. 

For customers 65 years of age or older who meet income requirements, Georgia Power will take up to $24 per month off their home energy bills, according to a March 17 news release. The company is also working with the Division of Family & Children Services to provide qualifying, low-income households with home energy bill assistance.

Through Georgia Power’s partnership with The Salvation Army, they are helping locals with food, medical needs, housing, and utility bills through Project SHARE.

Atlanta Gas Light Co. has decided to lengthen the grace period for residential and commercial customers to not have their service disconnected from seven days to April 13, according to a March 18 statement from the company.

“We are assessing the needs of our communities on an ongoing basis to make sure we’re providing all the support we can, and when normal billing resumes, we will work with our marketers to help customers handle past-due obligations in a manageable way,” the release states.

Atlanta Gas Light’s marketers include local companies such as Gas South and Georgia Natural Gas. 

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai called for broadband and telephone service providers to take the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge,” which would make it so that residential and small business customers would not have their service terminated or incur late fees for the next 60 days. Also, he asked for Wi-Fi hotspots to become open for any American.

Here’s how local internet and telephone carriers have adjusted their policies for those affected by COVID-19.

Cricket Wireless customers affected by COVID-19 can have reconnection fees waived, according to the company’s website. To qualify, customers are directed to call the Cricket customer care number, 1-800-CRICKET.

Comcast Xfinity will not disconnect or tack on late fees for customers who contact the company and explain their situation during this time, according to a March 13 news release

All Comcast customers will also have unlimited data for 60 days, and Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots will be free for anyone. New customers will also get access to 60 days of free Internet Essentials service, with an increased speed of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.

AT&T took the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge” by deciding to not terminate service or institute late fees for wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customers for the next 60 days, according to its  website. Public Wi-Fi hotspots are also open to any American.

All AT&T consumer home internet wireline customers will also receive unlimited internet data. “Limited income households,” who qualify will also, be able to pay $10 a month for internet access.

Verizon Wireless will waive late fees for residential and small business customers who are affected by COVID-19, according to the company’s website.

For customers with past due amounts, T-Mobile wrote on its website that they “understand” and tells clients to set up a payment arrangement online. Customers will also receive unlimited cellphone data for the next 60 days, except for roaming. For more, visit T-Mobile’s website.

Sprint is taking the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge” by waiving late fees and not stopping service for those unable to pay their bill because of coronavirus for the next 60 days, according to the company’s March 13 news release. For 60 days, customers should also be getting a free 20GB mobile hotspot of data and complimentary unlimited data for customers with metered plans by March 17.

Metro by T-Mobile urges customers to reach out to them if they aren’t able to make a payment due to “unexpected financial impacts,” according to the company’s website. Also, all customers will have unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days, except for roaming data. 

Metro is also providing free international calling to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-indicated Level-3 impacted countries. Visit Metro by T-Mobile’s website for more information about COVID-19 support for customers.