Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Pandemic Broadband Service Changes

Updated 3/26/2020

Some of the ISPs and wireless providers have made changes to their service offerings largely in response to the FCC's Keep Americans Connected Initiative I've scoured the websites and Facebook pages for Montana ISPs and the major national wireless providers. Most have statements about closing offices and payment options. If I found additional information, I'm including it here along with links. If your provider isn't listed, the only information I found pertained to office closings, contact information, and/or bill payment. I've discovered that many appear to be updating their Facebook pages more often than their web pages. That may be the best place to look for the most current information. I know that most of the small ISPs are coops and are run on very small margins so they probably can't afford the grand gestures of Charter/Spectrum and Verizon, for example. But if you have specific needs during this time I would encourage you to contact them to see what can be worked out.

In addition, there are numerous small cellular providers known as MVNOs. A couple of the better known ones are Consumer Cellular and TracPhone. I didn't look up to see what any of these might be offering at this time. But if you or some of your community members find yourself in a pinch, mobile hotspots are almost impossible to fine. It might be worth looking into a cheap cell phone and low cost no contract data plan from one of these many providers. Just be sure to check which network they use for their data. T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T should work in most of the state. Sprint doesn't work in Montana.

Montana ISPs and National Wireless Providers

3 Rivers

Three Rivers has asked schools to provide them with names of students and if their home is set up with a landline they will hook internet up for free until April 30th. 
Individuals cannot contact them directly, it had to have come from a school official. 
Thanks to Aaron LaFromboise for this update.

Access Montana

Access Montana will provide free internet installs to residential and small business customers

Access Montana will offer a $25 credit per month on internet services for new accounts

A $25 monthly credit for internet services will be offered to existing customers that have a member of the household in school or have switched to remotely working for their job. Please call 406-676-3300 and ask how to apply for this credit

Access Montana will refrain from suspending any customers that have been affected by COVID-19

Late fees for nonpayment will not be charged on the accounts also affected by COVID-19

AT&T - March 24, 2020

AT&T Offering Schools 60 days unlimited data for Laptops, Tablets and Hotspots; Also Offers free access to Caribu Video Calling App

With the unprecedented impacts COVID-19 is having on society, keeping millions of students and teachers home for the foreseeable future, we’re stepping up to enable virtual classrooms across the country.  Beginning today, we’re offering schools a way to save on unlimited wireless broadband connectivity for students.  Through May 22nd, qualified schools activating new lines on qualified data-only plans for school-issued tablets, 4G LTE-enabled laptops and hotspot devices will get the wireless data service at no cost for 60 days.

And schools know they need to protect their students while online – so we’re also making  AccessMyLANTM for the qualified lines available at no cost for 60 days. This service allows school administrators to manage the internet sites their students can access to help protect them from unsafe content and also to block malicious sites, malware and hacking attempts.  Please visit the Community section, under Supporting Education, on this site to learn more about these offers.

Additionally, to help keep families connected during this uncertain time, AT&T is also funding 60 days of free access and unlimited usage of Caribu, a video-calling application that allows family members to read, draw, and play games with one another while in distant locations. The Caribu application, which integrates children's books, coloring activities, and games will be available to families across the country and around the world, free of cost, for the next two months.

Caribu is the second recipient to receive a contribution from AT&T’s new $10 million Distance Learning and Family Connections fund, announced last week.  AT&T has also contributed $1M to Kahn Academy to help improve and expand online learning resources to meet growing demand from parents, teachers and students, including those who rely on free resources and need Khan Academy the most.

AT&T is also underwriting expenses for a “one-stop” resource center to support eLearning Days from the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) available to all educators in schools to help them handle school closures and the increase in virtual learning due to COVID-19. Click here to learn more.


Blackfoot joined FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Initiative – March 16, 2020

In agreeing to the Keep Americans Connected pledge, Blackfoot will commit to the following:
  1. We will not terminate service to any customer due to an inability to pay bill
  2. We will waive late fees 
  3. We will open Wi-Fi hot spots to any customer who needs them


Charter to Offer Free Access to Spectrum Broadband and Wi-Fi For 60 Days For New K-12 and College Student Households and More

Interbel – March 16, 2020

Due to ongoing closures and the resulting increase in internet demand, an additional 100 Gb of data cap space will be added each members account starting today March 16, 2020. We also want all of our members to stay connected to loved ones and informed about current events, as a result we are suspending all disconnect activity thru the end of April.

Mid-Rivers March 16, 2020

It is our practice to waive late fees, set up payment plans for customers who may need it to prevent disconnection of services, and offer a hand up in hard times.  That hasn’t changed, so contact us if you need help – we want you to remain our customer and keep your critical services.

As Mid-Rivers offers a rather unique plan whereby customers are charged by data usage, they attempt to assuage concerns about increased usage and costs by offering tips and links whereby one can monitor and limit data usage to hold down costs. Editorial comment not from website


Nemont Statement on Working or Education from home – March 17, 2020

If you are a current customer and are now working from home or your children are utilizing distance learning due to COVID-19 please contact our customer service at 800-636-6680 or chat online at and select the chat function to talk about options for your internet speed.

We know you may have additional questions about Nemont operations during this unprecedented situation. We will issue further statements with any new updates as they become available.

Signed onto the Pledge to Keep Americans Connected


Triangle Community Wi-Fi – Free Wi-Fi in Select Locations

We are proud to announce that we are implementing Community Wi-Fi programs in our service area!  

As a value-added service to your broadband, all Triangle Communications broadband members will have free access to Wi-Fi in select locations.


When a Verizon customer is experiencing hardships because of COVID-19, Verizon will waive late fees for 60 days from March 16, 2020 to May 13, 2020, and will not terminate service to a customer who's been impacted by the events involving the Coronavirus. If our customers are experiencing a hardship, they should call our customer service team to discuss their situation and available options. Customer support contact numbers, an online chat feature and support content can be found on the following pages:

Verizon will offer free international calling to countries identified by the Center for Disease Control as level 3 impacted by the coronavirus effective 3/18 through the end of April. This is available to wireless postpaid consumer and small/medium business customers, and landline home phone customers. Unlimited calling will be included for mobile and landline calls, with the exception of Iran, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia provided 300 minutes of free calls per month. Effective 3/19, wireless prepaid customers will also receive a total of 300 additional minutes to call level 3 countries.

Verizon will also waive activation fees on new lines of service and upgrade fees starting March 18. This applies to all purchases and service-only activations made through Verizon digital channels, such as and the My Verizon app.

Through April 30, Verizon will offer unlimited domestic calling to customers on limited-minute plans. Eligible customers will receive a text message to inform them of the offer. No action is necessary; the offer will automatically be added to eligible accounts. [Updated on 03/20/2020]