As the United States grapples with the challenges created by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Texas telecommunications industry is ramping up efforts to safeguard the strength of its networks and the health and wellbeing of its workforce, customers and local communities.
As Texas telecommunications companies operate in communities across the state, the health and wellbeing of employees and customers – including government agencies, businesses, hospitals, educational institutions and consumers – remain the top priority in this rapidly evolving crisis.
The Texas Telephone Association is recommending member companies advise employees of risk and mitigation strategies consistent with guidance from recommendations from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The industry is continuing to work with federal, state and local government officials and community leaders to understand the impact of the coronavirus and remain on top of current developments.
TTA member companies are focused on providing excellent network performance to customers while making sure networks are ready for potential changes in consumer behavior — including increased work-from-home, distance learning and other forms of communications.
So far, TTA members are reporting modest but manageable changes in consumer Internet usage and risk to customer service remains minimal. However, things can change quickly, and the industry remains vigilant in monitoring and managing network performance to serve customers in this challenging time.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on March 13 launched a new initiative in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is asking broadband providers and telecommunications companies take the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge.”
TTA member companies across the state have signed on, pledging for the next 60 days to waive late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus. In addition, the companies pledged not to terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus. Companies also agreed to open Wi-Fi hotspots to anyone who needs them.
This commitment will help ensure connectivity and provide assistance to customers and small businesses facing challenges from the global health and economic crisis. TTA has endorsed the pledge.
The Public Utility Commission of Texas has asked utilities and telecommunications companies across Texas to inform the commission of any activities they plan to take in response to the coronavirus.
TTA is encouraging member companies to continue to review business continuity and pandemic plans.
Here are a few resources that may be particularly relevant to member companies, their business, their employees and communities:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- World Health Organization (WHO): Rolling updates on coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
- Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Risk Management for COVID-19 (2020)
- Healthcare Ready COVID-19 Resources
- ATIS Network Reliability Steering Committee (NRSC) Pandemic Checklist (2015)
- Texas Department of State Health Services: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- MEMBER EXAMPLE: Table Top Drill and Internal / External Communication Plan (BBT)
As the United States wrestles with the challenges related to this rapidly evolving pandemic, the Texas telecommunications industry is working to contribute to preparedness and keep Texans connected.