March 30, 2020
As we continue our journey through these uncharted waters, I want to salute the network innovators and frontline broadband employees across the country singularly focused on keeping us connected. They are our lifeline to friends, families, colleagues, health services, educators, and our public safety community, and demonstrate why broadband is indispensable – now more than ever.
Like businesses around the world, USTelecom’s member companies are affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Without exception – from global technology enterprises to national, regional and local broadband providers – the safety of their employees and customers is top of mind as each works tirelessly to ensure our network infrastructure – the critical backbone for public services, business, and family communications – remain resilient and fully capable of delivering the capacity needs of our communities, no matter where, no matter what.
Our members are facing this crisis with fortitude and common values.
Here’s a shout-out to just a small sampling of the many steps USTelecom members are taking to keep us connected.
Investing in employees
Our members have plans in place to support their employees who are working tirelessly behind-the-scenes to provide network access to consumers, hospitals, first responders, and government agencies. They are the ones maintaining and servicing the networks keeping us connected.
CenturyLink is extending employee benefits, an immediate step to ensure the safety, financial health, and well-being of its employees. And AT&T just announced a 20% bonus to frontline employees.
Investing in communities
Our members across the country have committed to the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge, including to waive late fees and not terminate service to any customer due to an inability to pay bills because of economic circumstances related to and disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Members like Texas-based GVTC and others are increasing speeds to meet the increased demand and need for broadband service during this emergency. Smithville in Indiana, Chariton Valley in Missouri, Silver Star in Wyoming, Jefferson Telecom in Iowa, and RiverStreet Networks in North Carolina and Virginia are among the many providers around the country installing Wi-Fi hotspots in outdoor spaces to support physical distancing throughout the coronavirus crisis.
Investing in small businesses
With many small businesses struggling to maintain operations and support their employees, our members are offering free connectivity tools and raising financial support.
Northland Communications is offering free software-based phones and video conferencing for businesses in Central New York and surrounding areas, while Wabash is providing free data upgrades to support customers in Ohio. And Verizon just launched Pay it Forward Live, a weekly streaming entertainment series that will include music, gaming, comedy and more in support of small businesses affected by COVID-19.
Investing in education
Supporting our nation of learners is also a priority for our members.
While our members are making significant investments in educational resources to ensure students have access to online tools to support distance learning, several like Alaska Communications, and Comporium and Hargray in South Carolina, are offering free internet service to students.
Some members operate globally and are making worldwide contributions. Telefónica is bolstering educational content in Latin America through its online learning platforms used by teachers, parents and students, including Scolartic, a social media platform dedicated to learning, innovation and education providing free courses, presentations, and workshops for teachers and education students.
Investing in healthcare
Providing tools and support to our overwhelmed healthcare providers is a national priority.
Twilio has created a chatbot template for public health agencies, hospitals, and health-focused nonprofits to make it easier to reach people with timely, accurate, and trusted health information; while Verizon continues to support first responders, public health agencies, and federal, state and local government agencies with technology and connectivity solutions.
Oracle is collecting data and developing a mobile application in support of federal authorities to advance potential coronavirus drug therapies. Consolidated Communications has instituted an accelerated service initiative prioritizing healthcare first responders in key communities it serves. And CenturyLink just installed and donated high-speed internet to the hospital ship USNS Mercy which will provide 1,000 extra beds and more than 800 medical personnel as a back-up hospital for patients needing critical medical services not associated with COVID-19, allowing local Los Angeles health professionals and area hospitals to focus on treating patients with COVID-19.
Investing in our global community
Members are also stepping up to support the global response, providing critical resources to the World Health Organization and other non-profits working to save lives and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Cisco recently made a $225 million global commitment to enable customers, partners, and people around the world to take advantage of technology in this time of massive and sudden transformation.
Today, we are at the precipice of a global communications transformation being ushered in by next-generation network technologies. Thanks to the innovators who are investing in and building our nation’s – and the world’s – innovative broadband networks, I am confident we will emerge stronger and more connected than ever.
This article originally appeared on Jonathan Spalter’s Linkedin profile HERE.