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Alabama cable providers expand broadband services to students, low-income customers during pandemic

Alabama’s cable providers are rolling out no-cost and low-cost options for high-speed internet access to the state’s students and low-income populations hit hardest by closures and other impacts from COVID-19 pandemic precautions.

Alabamians rely on dependable broadband internet access, and increasingly so in the coming weeks as colleges convert to online instruction and more workers are being asked to telecommute.

To help those least equipped with the technology to cope with this crisis, cable providers like Charter Spectrum and Comcast are providing an array of services at reduced cost or no cost for 60 days and in some cases automatically increasing upload and download speeds for all customers going forward.

“Alabama’s cable providers are also coordinating with our local governmental and non-profit organizations across the state to make sure we have the highest awareness of these broadband options among those most affected by COVID-19 preparations,” said Michelle Roth, executive director of the Alabama Cable and Broadband Association. “Please check with your local cable provider if you are unclear on options for student and low-income access during this critical time in Alabama.”

Roth outlined specific efforts by Charter Spectrum, Comcast (Xfinity) and CTV Beam.

For residents in Charter Spectrum service areas:

  • Charter will offer free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with kindergarten through 12th-grade and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription at any service level up to 100 Mbps. To enroll call 1-844-488-8395.
  • Installation fees will be waived for new student households.
  • Charter will partner with school districts to ensure local communities are aware of these tools to help students learn remotely.
  • For eligible low-income households without school-aged children, Charter continues to offer Spectrum Internet Assist, a low-cost broadband program delivering speeds of 30 Mbps.
  • Charter will open its Wi-Fi hotspots across its Alabama service area for public use.

 For residents in Comcast’s Xfinity service areas:

  • Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots will be available for free. For a map, visit www.xfinity.com/wifi.
  • Comcast is pausing data plans for 60 days, giving all customers unlimited data for no additional charge.
  • Comcast will not disconnect a customer’s internet service or assess late fees if they contact the company and let them know that they can’t pay their bills during this period.
  • New customers will receive 60 days of complimentary Internet Essentials service, which is normally available to all qualified low-income households for $9.95/month. The speed of the program’s Internet service was increased to 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. There is no additional fee, and it becomes the new base speed going forward.

Founded in 1965, the Alabama Cable and Broadband Association provides its members with a unified voice on issues affecting the cable and telecommunications industry, serving as the advocate for cable providers, operators, suppliers and programmers.

Alabama’s cable industry provides rural, urban and suburban broadband telecommunications services to residents and businesses across the state’s 67 counties.

Cable providers employ more than 2,800 Alabamians, enable more than 24,000 direct and indirect jobs and have a total economic impact in Alabama of $3.6 billion.