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Working from home? Tampa Bay internet providers say they’re ready

Both Frontier Communications and Spectrum will not cut off anyone’s internet for unpaid bills for 60 days because of the coronavirus.
Frontier Communications and Spectrum say their systems can handle the extra load. Pictured are Spectrum service vehicles in 2018. [Courtesy of Spectrum, 2018]
Frontier Communications and Spectrum say their systems can handle the extra load. Pictured are Spectrum service vehicles in 2018. [Courtesy of Spectrum, 2018] [ MALENA CAROLLO | Spectrum ]
Published Mar. 17, 2020

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For Tampa Bay residents who have the luxury of working from home, one thing is crucial — functional internet.

Despite scattered complaints from customers on social media over the past few days, Frontier Communications and Spectrum say their systems can handle the extra load.

“The network is built to sustain maximum capacity during peak usage,” said Joe Durkin, spokesman for Charter Communications. “A surge during the day would be well within the network’s capabilities to manage.”

Both Frontier and Spectrum are participating in the Federal Communications Commission’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge" during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The voluntary commitment means they agree to not turn off customers’ internet for 60 days beginning March 13 if customers cannot pay their bills, waive any late fees for residential or small business customers who are economically affected by the crisis and open WiFi hotspots to those in need.

As more people begin to practice “social distancing” by working from home over the past few days, some in Tampa Bay complained of on-again-off-again internet connections or outages.

But Durkin said Spectrum does not currently have any widespread or local interruptions.

“We serve hundreds of thousands of customers," he said. "If any individual customers are having an issue they should contact Spectrum customer service.”

Frontier, similarly, was having no problem keeping up with the load, spokesman Bob Elek said.

“We provide one-to-one connections and no data caps," Elek said. “Thus far, we haven’t seen any kind of issues.”

Charter Communications, Spectrum’s parent company, is offering free WiFi for 60 days for homes with kindergarten- through college-aged students if they do not already have a broadband subscription. Qualifying customers will not need to pay installation fees. Those interested can call 1-844-488-8395.

It is also placing free WiFi hotspots in some of its coverage areas.

Frontier’s Elek said the company may expand its coronavirus-related services.

“We will continue to explore ways to provide relief and offer expanded access to those in need,” Elek said.

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