Verizon said it stands ready to help its customers ramp up telecommuting and online learning, as well as telehealth and first-responder communications, as the country faces the coronavirus outbreak. It has also pledged to ramp up capital spending, in part to provide some stimulus to a hurting economy.
Verizon said it has not yet seen a measurable increase in data usage despite the increase in teleworking and remote schooling. It says its networks are built to meet future demand and have the capacity to handle increases if they come.
Verizon also said it is upping its capital expenditures for 2020 from $17 billion-$18 billion to $17.5 billion-$18.5 billion to accelerate 5G, spending it said will also "help support the economy during this period of disruption."
The company said it is monitoring usage and will prioritize demand to assist hospitals, schools and government agencies.
“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 Verizon CTO Kyle Malady. "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.”
A spokesperson for FCC chairman Ajit Pai, in response to calls from ranking Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel for aggressive action from the FCC including potentially eliminate data caps, told Multichannel News that the commission "has already been coordinating closely with network operators and has been encouraged by the feedback we have received both regarding the ability of their networks to handle changes in usage patterns caused by the coronavirus outbreak and their plans to maintain their own operations during the outbreak."
Verizon's announcement provided some supporting material for the FCC's encouraging words.