Companies offer freebies as students hunker down at home


Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay

Maël Lorach, Staff Reporter

As many residents shelter-in-place and schools shift to online, multiple companies have begun offering free services to bridge the access gap.

COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of many regardless of income and internet providers, and tech companies have taken notice offering temporarily free access to otherwise expensive products and services.

One of the biggest disruptors, as the pandemic progresses, has been the closure of libraries and computer labs that worked as internet hubs for those who did not have access at home.

“Nowadays, the internet is more of a necessity than a luxury. Especially during this quarantine, because stuff is going through Zoom, and classes are working through Canvas,” said John Paul, an economics major.

Right now, Comcast, Charter, and Wander Internet are offering free internet access to people who may not be able to afford it and waiving the installation fees.

To qualify, people must provide proof that their financial needs place them in these circumstances.

“If I were a broke college student, I could definitely see the utility in these services,” Paul said.

Many companies providing non-crucial services have also decided to provide free access to their products.

Sling TV is offering free access to its entire catalog of TV shows and movies.

With people stuck in their homes, these services can assist in coping with the boredom of being quarantined.

“Especially in a time when all of us are just home, people who don’t have Netflix or anything like that would probably be inclined to take advantage of this as much as possible,” said Yuna Choi, a 20-year old biology major.

Among the companies providing free services is Apple, which is also providing free access to Apple News Plus, and Peloton which is allowing free access to its workout application to assist those trying to maintain exercise goals as gyms close.

Whether these services are being provided out of charity, or as a marketing initiative is up for debate.

“The coronavirus is giving them a really good opportunity for companies to advertise themselves,” said Ryo Hatanaka, a 19-year old engineering major. “If people use their services, there’s a chance they’ll end up liking them and paying for them.”


Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay