With the COVID-19 outbreak causing global disruptions in economic, educational, medical, and civic welfare, Internet access has become critical not only to keep the public informed but also to let people work from home, attend school remotely and keep in touch despite social distancing.
On Mar 13, more than 65 broadband and wireless companies signed the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge” launched by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that implored major internet providers across the United States to ensure that Americans have access to the internet. Internet service providers AT&T ( T - Free Report) , Comcast ( CMCSA - Free Report) , Cox, Verizon ( VZ - Free Report) , CenturyLink, Frontier, Mediacom, Charter Communication’s ( CHTR - Free Report) Spectrum and many more have pledged to not cut off service offered to residential and business customers who cannot pay their bills or penalize them with late fees because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Additionally, the list includes companies such as Sprint, US Cellular, T-Mobile ( TMUS - Free Report) and TrakFone, as well as Google Fiber, and Pioneer among others. Atlantic Broadband, Cincinnati Bell, Sonic, Wave Broadband and Altice, which includes Suddenlink and Optimum, have also pledged to keep Americans connected. VIDEO Internet Service Providers’ Prospects The need for quarantine and travel barriers due to COVID-19-driven panic has created exponential growth opportunities for Internet service providers across the world. Notably, in the United States, Internet traffic has increased 10 -20% since the first week of February, when the first COVID-19 cases were reported in Seattle, according to Cloudflare report. Per FCC's Broadband Deployment 2019 report stated that 21.3 million Americans, or 6.5% of the population, lack access to broadband Internet, including wired and fixed wireless connections. Moreover, the gap is the biggest in rural and tribal areas — more than 26% of residents in rural areas and 32% in Tribal lands lack access. However, a BroadbandNow report from February 2020 suggests that 42 million Americans lack access to broadband. Offers of unlimited data usage, waiver of fines for late payment for Internet services and cheaper subscription plans to facilitate stay-at-home are expected to boost new user additions for service providers. Internet Providers’ Initiatives to Counter Coronavirus Crisis Let’s delve deeper to find out about the different initiatives taken by Internet providers to counter the COVID-19-led situation. Dish Network ( DISH - Free Report) will provide its entire portfolio of 600 Mhz spectrum to T-Mobile at no cost for the next 60 days. Dish currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. DISH Network Corporation Price and EPS Surprise
T-Mobile will now offer limitless data for all mobile plans for the subsequent 60 days. It includes Metro as well as T-Mobile users. The Zacks Rank #3 company will offer an extra 20 GB for the mobile hotspot service for the same period. T-Mobile US, Inc. Price and EPS Surprise
Sprint also announced that it will provide limitless data for the next 60 days from Mar 19. Similar to T-Mobile, the company will offer 20 GB free data for mobile hotspots for the next 60 days.
Meanwhile, AT&T is the first major ISP to confirm suspension of all broadband usage caps and also provide a waiver on Internet data overage to customers with limited services. All AT&T consumer home Internet wireline customers, as well as Fixed Wireless Internet, can use unlimited Internet data. Additionally, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company will continue to offer Internet access to qualifying limited income households at $10 a month through the Access from AT&T program.
AT&T Inc. Price and EPS Surprise