The following is an update the Delaware Public Service Commission received from Verizon about their COVID-19 response.
“I’m writing today to update you on Verizon’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on those that rely on our services. Please share this with all those in the DE PSC that would want to know the update.
First, we’re excited to announce that we are extending through June 30 our commitment to waive late fees and to not terminate service for those consumers and small businesses 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 30th as well.
Any customer who signs up, or has already signed up, with us to use these commitments will also be automatically enrolled in a deferred bill program to make it easier to get back on track paying off balances after June. For our wireless customers, the deferred bill program will be implemented in different ways for service and device payments. For unpaid service charges, we will defer past due balances so that customers will repay the unpaid balance in 6 equal installments over 6 months starting at the end of June or the beginning of July, depending on the customer’s billing cycle. For device payment installments, we will defer any unpaid device payment installations to the end of a device payment agreement and provide the customer with a new device payment schedule.
At the outset of the pandemic, we announced that we would add 15GB of data for no charge to the plans of wireless and small business customers on metered plans, 15GB of 4G LTE hotspot data to wireless customers on unlimited plans, and 15GB of data to Jetpack plans. We continue to support customers who may find themselves needing additional data in order to learn, work or keep connected during this challenging time, which is why we recently announced we are automatically adding an additional 15GB of data to the same plans to be used during the month of May. There is no action needed as this data will automatically be added to consumer and small business accounts. We’re also extending our offer of unlimited domestic calling to wireless customers on limited-minute plans through May 31.
We also announced that we’re extending our new affordable internet plan for low-income households for another two months. Qualified customers can purchase Fios 200/200Mbps home internet service for just $19.99/month with a free year of Disney+ and no router rental charges.
As you know, technology has played a critical role in the missions of federal, state and local governments, educational institutions, public health organizations and the public sector as a whole during the COVID-19 pandemic. That’s why we’ve teamed on the frontlines with COVID-19 first responders, helping to provide the technologies that enable them to better serve our communities.
In Rhode Island, we stood up a virtual call center to enable government employees to more efficiently serve their communities from home offices. And when nursing home residents sheltered-in-place in New Mexico, the state’s Aging and Long-Term Services Department worked with Verizon to distribute hundreds of tablets to nursing facilities across the state. Residents use the tablets to stay connected to their friends and families.
We recently delivered a mobile cell site and landline connectivity to Fort Totten Park in Queens, New York, which is being used as a base of operations for the military, fire department, up to 300 ambulances, and as a potential site for a field hospital. And we delivered, in a 24-hour window, hundreds of smartphones and devices to the U.S. National Guard, who were recently deployed to New York City.
And we announced a $2.5 million grant to be shared across a group of international countries and charities offering healthcare support and food relief related to the pandemic. The charities receiving grants include: The Red Cross in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom; along with food banks in each of those countries.
Verizon is also helping businesses and critical infrastructure providers around the globe stay operational as they move to remote working, or transform their business operations, to better serve their customers and their communities. A webinar series hosted by Verizon is also offering useful advice for small business owners. Additionally, Yahoo Small Business is helping small businesses get online with a free one-year subscription to Business Maker which includes a website, domain and business email.
We also recently expanded the Verizon Business “Food for the Frontline Workers” program, partnering with the Ford Motor Company Fund and local food trucks to provide meals to more than 300 medical staff working at the TCF Regional Care Center in downtown Detroit. The program had already been operating in New York City, partnering with a small businesses to prepare more than 1,800 meals daily throughout April, at no cost to the hospitals or their employees.
Beyond the forgoing, additional COVID-19 relief efforts by Verizon to aid those who serve in our communities include:
● Verizon’s total COVID-19 crisis commitment now stands at over $50 million in contributions and donations to nonprofits around the globe. ● Joining forces with the New York Times to offer 14 million high school students within the U.S. free digital access to NYTimes.com. ● Supporting the students and teachers in the Verizon Innovative Learning program, the company’s education initiative targeting Title 1 middle schools, by tripling their data allowances and through free access to educational apps. ● A weekly streaming series called #PayItForwardLive, which connects big names in entertainment to small businesses, offering entertainment to those at home and financial support to small businesses through grants via LISC.org, up to $5 million.
● Partnering with first responders, federal agencies, state and local governments, and public health agencies to support COVID-19 response efforts by deploying mobile network assets to support emergency response facilities, supplying emergency wireless communications devices, supporting communications and collaboration services, and providing mobile broadband services.
● A joint effort with The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Fire Department of the City of New York (FDNY) Help Fund to provide more than 700 EMS FDNY Help Fund members/emergency medical technicians and paramedics with daily meals prepared by NYC restaurants on Sunday.
● From Verizon Media, a $10 million donation in advertising inventory to support mental and public health response efforts to address the COVID-19, as well as donations of creative and staff resources from its own teams.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep our employees and customers safe, we are making every attempt to perform work without going into homes or small businesses, and are limiting installs to medical emergencies and critical installations. To that end, we launched “Fios in a Box,” a new self-install option available in select homes where fiber can be connected without the technician needing to enter the house.
After arriving at a customer’s residence, the service technician works outside, rigging the cable from the nearest pole, using crushable fiber that can be fed through a window or door with the customer’s permission. The box offers the simplicity of having the essential Fios equipment components in one easy to handle kit. The technician can guide the customer through each step of the install by leveraging innovative virtual technician technology from outside the home. Once the customer plugs in, they’re up and running with triple play.
To find out more about Verizon’s efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit verizon.com/about/news/our-response-coronavirus.”