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Digital solidarity: Operators offer data and unlimited internet because of COVID-19

The announcement that the COVID-19 outbreak had risen to a pandemic has raised danger alarms in many countries even louder. Around the world, telecommunications operators are taking measures to facilitate compliance with infection prevention and control, helping the population that now works or studies at home to have better access to the Internet.

In Portugal, Altice (MEO), NOS and Vodafone announced that, as of March 17, they will offer 10GB of data because of COVID-19. The measure aims to allow users to access the Internet outside the workplace, as many workers are now on teleworking, seeking to avoid contagion in situations of voluntary quarantine.

In Italy, one of the European countries most severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, only several telecommunications operators have joined in a digital solidarity campaign. Italian Tim, for example, decided to extend the measures she had previously applied to the red zone to the whole country. These include an unlimited mobile data plan for a month, as well as unlimited calls to landline numbers. Vodafone is also helping companies that have to resort to remote work through free calling plans and Internet access.

Telefnica, one of the largest telecommunications operators in Spain, announced in a press release that it will offer 30 GB of additional mobile data over the next two months to customers of the Fusion and Movistar plans. In addition, it will modify the offer with regard to TV channels so that more customers have free access to sports and children's content. Orange, MsMvil and Vodafone will also offer free mobile data to customers, advances El Mundo.

In France, Free, a subsidiary of French telecommunications operator Iliad, was the first to announce similar measures. In a press release, the company says that by the end of April, all 5 million users of the cheapest plan, often used by students, will be entitled to 1 GB of mobile data instead of the usual 50 MB.

The two largest US Internet service providers have announced that they are making changes to the broadband services they offer in response to the high number of Americans who rely on the Internet at home to work or study.

AT&T was the first to confirm that it will lift data limits on its broadband plans from all customers until further developments regarding COVID-19, the company said on the Motherboard website. Previously, customers with limited plans were at risk of paying fines of up to 10 dollars for every additional 50 GB consumed.

Comcast is now focusing on the Internet Essentials program, which provides a broadband plan to families with lower incomes for $ 9.95 a month. The company is now offering the plan free of charge for the next 60 days. In a press release, Comcast also said it will increase the Internet speed to 25/3 Mbps for all customers.

As the number of people working and studying at home also increases in Australia, the operator Optus decided to give customers a 20 GB mobile data bonus until April. In addition, all customers who charge more than 40 Australian dollars during the next month will receive 10 GB. The decision announced in a statement follows the measures taken by US operators.