Business

How utility, phone and internet companies are giving consumers a break during coronavirus pandemic

Many utilities and telecommunications companies are easing shutoffs and waiving late fees to accommodate consumers who might be struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

Companies like Comcast, PG&E, AT&T and Duke Energy are among the businesses giving people a break, in one way or another.

Some companies are offering free services as COVID-19 disrupts life for students, workers, families, businesses and communities.

Here's a selection of how various cable, utility and other companies are taking action:

Comcast: The cable giant is offering free access to its Xfinity WiFi hotspots for everyone, including non-subscribers, for the 60 days. It's also providing unlimited data to its customers for no extra charge and is not disconnecting internet service or charging late fees for customers who say they can't pay their bills. The company is also providing 60 days of free basic internet service to new customers.

Pacific Gas and Electric Co.: PG&E has halted service disconnections for non-payment for both residential and commercial customers until further notice. The utility will also offer flexible payment plans "to customers who indicate either an impact or hardship as a result of COVID-19."

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Southern California Edison: The utility is suspending disconnections for nonpayment and waiving late fees "for residential and business customers impacted by the COVID-19 emergency."

Consolidated Edison: The utility has suspended service shutoffs for customers having payment troubles.

Georgia Power: The utility is suspending residential shutoffs for 30 days, after which it will reevaluate its policy.

How utility, phone and internet companies are giving consumers a break during coronavirus pandemic

AT&T: The cable, phone and media giant is suspending the termination of wireless, home phone or broadband service when customers can't pay their bills due to coronavirus disruptions. The company is also waiving related late fees. Like Comcast, AT&T is also providing free access to its public WiFi hotspots. The company also said its consumer home internet wireline customers and fixed wireless internet customers would receive unlimited data.

Verizon: Verizon said it is waiving late fees and suspending service termination for customers "negatively impacted by the global crisis."

T-Mobile: The mobile phone service provider is providing unlimited data to all of its customers for the next 60 days. It will also provide additional data to mobile hotspot users.

Duke Energy: The utility is suspending disconnections for non-payment. "Customers should pay what they can to avoid building up a large balance that will be harder to pay off later," the company said.

NV Energy: The utility is suspending disconnections "for our customers directly impacted by this crisis," and is waiving late fees and deposits "for customers who experience financial hardships related to COVID-19, or are unable to pay due to self-isolation."

PSE&G: The utility is suspending shutoffs to residential customers for non-payment through the end of April, "at which time PSE&G will evaluate the continued need," according to an email sent to customers.

Charter Communications: The telecommunications company is providing free Spectrum broadband and WiFi internet for the next 60 days to households with K-12 students or college students who don't already have a subscription. Like Comcast and AT&T, it's also offering its WiFi hotspots for free to the public.

Atlanta Gas Light: The utility has suspended shutoffs for seven days while it evaluates its options.

Dominion Energy: The utility has suspended disconnections for nonpayment.

National Grid: The company is suspending service disconnections and other "collections-related activities" through the end of April, after which the policy will be reevaluated.

Atlantic Broadband: The company will not terminate service for residential or small business customers due to nonpayment if they've faced "disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic." It is also waiving late fees that customers "might normally incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic."

Enterprise: The rental car company is reducing the minimum age for renting a car to 18 through May 31 "to make it easier for students to get home to their families" due to the suspension of college courses.

Northern Indiana Public Service Company: NIPSCO is suspending shutoffs for nonpayment until further notice.

Green Mountain Power: The utility is suspending shutoffs and is deferring bill collection in recognition of financial hardships some customers may face due to the coronavirus outbreak.