Internet providers lower overage fees, offer free service for troops affected by virus
Stars and Stripes is making stories on the coronavirus pandemic available free of charge. See other free reports here. Sign up for our daily coronavirus newsletter here. Please support our journalism with a subscription.
Some internet providers at U.S. military bases are slashing overage fees or providing free service to troops in lockdown or quarantine due to the coronavirus.
Americable, which serves bases in Japan, announced April 17 it would reduce overage fees from $12.50 to $6.25 for every 50 gigabytes beyond the limits on customers’ data plans in April and May.
The announcement followed the surge in internet traffic after students were sent home from school and base workers began teleworking in March and April.
The changes affect Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Yokosuka Naval Base, Naval Air Station Atsugi and Sasebo Naval Base, where peak traffic hours now last an entire day instead of in the evening or on weekends, said James Smith, president of Americable International Inc., in an email Friday to Stars and Stripes.
“In a typical month, between 8-10% of customers exceed the data limits for their subscribed plan,” he said. “However, had we not waived the overage fees last month that number would have been much higher.”
Boingo, another internet service provider for service members in the United States, Japan and South Korea, is offering broadband service for free to those living in quarantine barracks, said spokeswoman Melody Walker in an emailed statement on Wednesday. This free service covers more than 7,000 beds.
“Boingo is, and always has been, an unlimited data service provider – we don’t have data caps, charge late fees, install fees or cancellation fees,” she said.
Smith, in his April 17 letter to customers that was shared over base-affiliated social media accounts, reminded service members and their families that Americable’s service is a finite resource constrained by bandwidth availability.
Echoing the requests of base commanders, he implored customers to limit their screen time, and to log onto their accounts regularly to monitor their usage to ensure everyone stays within their limits.