Verizon Wireless customers are automatically getting 30 extra gigabytes of cellular data as part of the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Half of the additional allotment must be used by the end of the month, while the other half will become available in May.
Here’s the catch: the extra data is being handed out by plan and not by line, so if your entire family is on the same plan you’ll get 15 GB to share, not 15 GB per phone. Those with unlimited plans will receive 15 GB of 4G LTE hotspot data, as the “unlimited” label doesn’t apply to data used when phones are used as mobile hotspots.
In addition to the extra gigabytes, Verizon is waiving overage charges and late fees, making calls to CDC level 3 countries (those with “widespread ongoing transmission,” most of the world at this point) free, providing open access to the public wifi hotspots it maintains, and eliminating data caps for those with internet access through the company’s Fios and DSL plans.
Data caps for Verizon Wireless customers are staying intact, so expect slower speeds if you max out your phone’s data plan.
Many of these commitments follow from the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected pledge, a voluntary commitment by internet service providers not to terminate service, charge late fees, or restrict access to wifi hotspots for 60 days.
Verizon actually added the second month’s 15 GB yesterday, a month after announcing April’s additional data. It’s a sign that the second-largest telecommunications company in the country is open to extending these kinds of courtesies through the duration of the crisis, though it remains to be seen how long its charitable mood will last.