COVID-19 has changed the way we’re all doing business as we all do our part to reduce the spread of the virus. At OTELCO, as a public utility, we are committed to service delivery – particularly at a time when connectivity is so critical to so many.
We’ve received many questions about how we’re conducting business and want to share the answers with all of you.
We are in the process of migrating our customer service and tech support staff out of our offices and into their homes, allowing them to telecommute and do their part in social distancing. As you might imagine, that is no simple task: it requires training of staff (many have never telecommuted before), deployment of network hardware and software, the development of processes to manage things like mail and package delivery, and coordination with employees to help them establish suitable workspaces in their homes. Many of them need company-issued equipment, some will need to be ‘working around’ other family members including children engaged in distance learning. We ask your patience as we work to address all of these logistics; we expect things to be running smoothly within the next few days.
We’ve had many questions about how we’re handling site visits for install and repair.
We are working to ensure the health and safety of our customers and our outside plant technicians in several ways:
- All of our technicians have been trained in precautions to protect themselves and the homes they visit.
- We will not send staff displaying cold & flu symptoms to your location.
- Technical support and customer service staff are calling all existing scheduled appointments and asking screening questions to establish whether our visit could put our employees at risk of COVID-19. In cases where there is a concern, we are moving appointments out by 14 days. In some cases, we will send technicians to do what needs to be done outside the home or business and drop off written instructions and inside equipment, for the customer to install.
- We are also screening customers in the same manner when scheduling new appointments.
It takes a village and we need your cooperation:
- Please answer our questions during the screening call. They are for the protection of all.
- Please be honest with us. If we can’t enter your home because of COVID19 and your service is critical to get you working from home or your child set up with online learning, we will do our best to employ our self-install protocol.
- If we are entering your home, please help us with social distancing, we’re happy to wave and smile from 6 feet away!
- Since we all should be hand washing and surface sanitizing, please do your best to have the area(s) where our techs need to be working as sanitized as possible.
- If your health situation or that of your family changes between when we make your appointment and our scheduled arrival time, PLEASE let us know so that we can make adjustments to keep everyone safe.
- If you or someone in your home is in a high-risk category and you would like to discuss special accommodations, please contact us before your appointment.
Specific to our FHMS Broadband Subscribers:
- In addition to the precautions listed above, for the next few weeks, in the interest of social distancing, we may shift some of our human resources toward new site deployments rather than in-home installs.
- We will continue to schedule simple service installs where the technician isn’t required to enter a premise.
Specific to our Leverettnet Subscribers:
- In most cases, field techs can do what they need to without entering a home. Any service calls that require a technician to enter the home will be handled on a case by case basis.
- We may be able to help if you have a student in need and don’t have Internet already. If you live in one of our service areas* and meet certain income qualifications, we will provide the highest DSL or Cable speed available at your location for 60 days at no charge. Please visit our Free Student Internet information page for details.
- *April 1st Update-Due to overwhelming demand in our Alabama Service Area, we have reached our capacity to install additional services between now and the projected end of social distancing guidelines. Unfortunately, this means that we are unable to accept additional applications for free service in Alabama at this time. We are still accepting applications in Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Missouri, and West Virginia.
The Bottom Line:
- We all need to work together, that is, as long as we’re not within 6 feet of each other. (Laughter is the best medicine, remember?)
- OTELCO and our partners at Leverettnet and FHMS Broadband are taking every precaution to ensure the wellbeing of our subscribers and our staff.
- We are counting on you to help us reduce the spread of COVID19.
- We are committed to providing you with the connectivity you need to get through these trying times.
- We thank you for your cooperation, patience, and understanding.