Verizon signed onto the FCC’s new “Keep Americans Connected” pledge on Friday, and will waive late fees for 60 days for customers economically impacted by the coronavirus.

The telecommunications giant also said it will not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of an inability to pay bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

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Verizon said it will “use the power of connectivity to help keep the nation’s economy moving forward.” This followed Verizon’s announcement on Thursday that it will increase its capital investment guidance in 2020 from $17 to $18 billion, to $17.5 to $18.5 billion.

“Now more than ever, we need to ensure that our customers, their families and businesses have the ability to connect to the internet even if they’re facing financial hardship from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Hans Vestberg, Verizon chairman and CEO, in a press release. “We want to ensure that our customers can continue to use the internet to work, learn, and carry on with their lives as we all address this collective challenge. We’re confident this joint effort will help make that happen.”

Vestberg continued, “I’m asking each of our business units and all of our dedicated employees to ensure we’re doing everything we can to make sure our customers stay connected. I also want our company to look beyond this period, ramp up our network investment, and build and focus on using the power of 5G to make the nation’s best and most reliable networks even better.”

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Verizon ready for an increase in data traffic

Verizon says that despite the global pandemic, there has not been any measurable increase in data usage on any of its networks, despite many businesses and schools now operating online. In a press release, Verizon said the company is “ready should demand increase or usage patterns change significantly.”

The company said its primary concern is to serve customers at home, as well as first-responders and “those protecting the public,” and that it monitors network usage in the most impacted areas. It will prioritize network demand to assist in the needs of US hospitals, first responders, and government agencies.

Verizon has a fleet of mobile assets including portable COLTs (cells on light trucks) and COWs (cells on wheels/trucks), mobile charging stations, and more to support first responders and their critical needs.

Company engineers continue to increase wireless capacity and fiber networks.

“Verizon operates its networks every day as though it’s a snow day—events when millions of Americans work from home while family members go online to watch videos, play games and talk and text to their friends and families,” said Kyle Malady, Verizon’s chief technology officer. “Delivering reliable networks is what we do. While this is an unprecedented situation, we know things are changing, and we are ready to adjust network resources as we better understand any shifts in demand. We have the best engineers in the world monitoring the situation closely.”

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