AT&T lifts home broadband data cap in response to spike in remote working

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Jonathan Weiss)

AT&T has temporarily lifted all broadband usage caps to help customers forced to work from home due to coronavirus.

The move follows increasing pressure on the operator from a group of US Senators who claim the practice will negatively affect those asked to work from home over the coming weeks.

The Senators co-signed a letter to the chief executives of internet service providers (ISPs) such as AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint, demanding they halt the practice, which critics believe is tantamount to price gouging.

Prior to the suspension, some AT&T customers were operating under a usage cap as diminutive as 150GB per month, and faced charges of more than $10 per additional 50GB used.

As an increasing number of companies introduce remote working policies to delay the spread of coronavirus, such restrictions could have resulted in significant financial penalties.

Remote working

The call for ISPs to suspend data caps was seconded by Free Press, which also criticised the companies for adhering to predatory surcharges in the midst of the outbreak.

“We may all soon be subject to various degrees of social distancing, which will likely involve a heavier reliance on digital communications and a greater demand for data,” said the consumer group in a statement.

“Internet service providers must ensure that students are still able to learn, employers are still able to conduct business, and we’re all able to communicate with each other without having our connections capped or cut off.”

AT&T has become the first major ISP to delimit broadband data in response to the request, though a number of companies have announced measures to support the need to work from home as a result of the outbreak.

LogMeIn, Cisco, Microsoft and Google are all offering collaboration packages for free, in a bid to facilitate smooth communication between remote workers.

Many conferences have also been converted to virtual-only events to prevent the spread of the virus among attendees, including Google Cloud Next, Microsoft MVP and Adobe Summit.

COVID-19 is believed to have originated in the Chinese province of Wuhan. To date, more than 135,000 cases have been confirmed and roughly 5,000 have died.

Via Motherboard

Joel Khalili
News and Features Editor

Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.