World News

Trump holds call with U.S. internet, mobile phone providers

By David Shepardson and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump spoke with the biggest U.S. internet and mobile phone providers on Tuesday to talk about how the networks are holding up as tens of millions of Americans work from home.

The Federal Communications Commission has said U.S. networks are performing well and has granted temporary access to additional spectrum blocks to help providers manage traffic.

The chief executives of AT&T Inc, Verizon Communications Inc, Charter Communications Inc, Comcast, Altice USA, LionTree and Sprint Corp took part in the call, as did the incoming chief executive of T-Mobile US Inc and chairman of Liberty Media.

The White House said Trump thanked the firms “for not only rising to the increased demand, but extending services to all Americans at no additional cost and for waiving bills and late fees for those experiencing financial hardship.”

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said last week “the data show that the recent surges in Internet traffic are well within the capacity of U.S. networks.”

Major firms, including all those Trump spoke with, agreed earlier this month not to terminate service for subscribers for 60 days if they are unable to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus. In total, hundreds of firms have agreed to take the steps, the FCC said.

They also agreed to waive any late fees residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic and to open Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs them.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, said the commission should issue daily reports on the performance of U.S. networks during the crisis.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)