Telecom Tech Giants Stay Connected and True in COVID-19 Crisis
April 15, 2020
During the coronavirus pandemic, when so much feels uncertain, one thing remains sure: telecommunications tech giants have answered the call, both as businesses delivering critical services and in fulfilling corporate social responsibility investments. In fact, we have seen many extend their commitments, with the knowledge that serving and connecting people now is more important than ever.
In this time of crisis, telecom tech giants know that their stakeholders – employees, investors, customers and the general public — are closely monitoring how they’re responding and caring for those most impacted by the crisis. They are being tested for how they support the students, small businesses and first responders, among others, who are on the front lines and who have been hit hardest by COVID-19, including first responders and communities in underserved areas.
In response to nationwide school closures, Verizon, long committed to digital inclusion, has increased the available data for its Verizon Innovative Learning middle school students from 10GB to 30GB a month, for an initial period of two months. This means that students in underserved Title 1 communities across the US will continue to have the connectivity they need to keep learning remotely. Additionally, through a partnership between Verizon and The New York Times Company, more than 14 million high school students now have free access to the nytimes.com with its historical archive and learning tools.
Sprint (which as of April 1st is a T-Mobile company) announced its support for the 1Million Project Foundation to help connect kids without home internet service and increased students’ data allotment from 10GB to 20GB a month until June 30. AT&T also created a $10 million fund to support parents, teachers and students throughout COVID-19 school closures, including a $1 million donation to Khan Academy to help fund the nonprofits’ online education efforts.
To aid food-insecure homebound students who may be without the meals they typically receive at their schools, Verizon donated $5 million to No Kid Hungry Responds: Coronavirus. T-Mobile gave $700,000 to the national food bank network Feeding America with the bulk of donations pledged through its T-Mobile Tuesday program.
Right now, tech brands are also shining a bright spotlight on helping first responders. For example, Verizon is donating a combined $5 million to the COVID-19 Response Fund and Direct Relief, both centered on supporting healthcare workers on the front lines. In an effort to help both frontline workers and small businesses, Verizon is working with local New York restaurants to provide meals to healthcare workers at local hospitals through its “Feeding First Responders” initiative, part of a larger effort to Pay It Forward. AT&T is mobilizing FirstNet—its nationwide wireless broadband communications platform dedicated to America’s first responders—to give additional support in quarantine zones, airports, and emergency operation centers. Additionally, AT&T is giving three months of free wireless service for nurses and physicians battling the coronavirus pandemic across the U.S. All of the major US carriers — Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile/Sprint— have signed on to the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge, relaxing policies on overages and data caps so that, as the pandemic continues, customers everywhere can remain connected.
Striking the right business balance can present challenges, especially when the immediate focus is on basic necessities people need to live, to be connected and to thrive, rather than investments being made for the greater societal good. What is more impactful for a brand: Caring for the individual needs of customers and businesses, or caring for social issues that companies have been invested in over the long haul?
The answer? It doesn’t have to be one or the other.
They are interconnected. Just like we all are.