Matzie and Neilson urge telecom companies to suspend data caps, fees for overages during pandemic response

PHILADELPHIA, March 13 – Responding to the need for broadband internet access as Pennsylvania schools transition to online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, state Reps. Rob Matzie, D-Beaver/Allegheny, and Ed Neilson, D-Philadelphia, are calling on internet providers statewide to temporarily remove data caps on home broadband internet and wireless internet service. 

In a letter to telecom providers throughout the state, the lawmakers are urging the companies to suspend data caps and overage fees, citing the need to minimize the pandemic’s impact on students and their families.

“As lawmakers, our No. 1 priority is always the safety and health of residents,” Matzie said. “But in challenging times, when circumstances force prolonged changes to our daily routine, it’s also important to ensure that residents continue receiving the benefit of essential services. That’s especially true when it comes to services like education.

“With internet learning becoming a reality as we take measures to ensure safety during the pandemic, it’s essential that all families – regardless of household budget – have uninterrupted access to internet, without having to worry about the cost of overages. Continuing access to education should never depend on a family’s ability to afford an internet bill.”

Neilson agreed, noting, “We are urging Pennsylvanians to do what is in the best interest of themselves, their friends and neighbors, and that’s exercise some social distancing,” Neilson said.

“In the effort to protect the public at large, it would be tremendous to have cooperation from our telecom companies to alleviate this one pressure for their customers – and act in the public’s best interests – by removing data caps for folks who need to stay home temporarily. Doing so would not only be the right thing, but a gesture to all people, not just the wealthy folks who could afford overage fees, that their health and well-being is paramount.”

The lawmakers sent the letter to AT&T, CTIA, Comcast, PA Broadband Cable Association, PA Telephone Association, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon.