For Immediate Release (03/31/2020)
Winona, MN – With the COVID-19 virus continuing to spread, Hiawatha Broadband Communications’ (HBC) customers have become even more dependent on their Internet connection. HBC assures its customers it’s fiber-optic network is ready for what lies ahead.
HBC President, Dan Pecarina, said among his company’s primary concerns are making sure customers have a reliable network connection in their homes and businesses. HBC is also an early adopter of the FCC “Keep America Connected Pledge.”
“With so many people now working remotely from home and schools transitioning to online learning for the remainder of the school year, reliable Internet access is critical,” Pecarina said. “HBC is offering free broadband for low-income K-12 families and those who qualify for the Telephone Assistance Program (TAP). We even took it one step farther by extending free service to those families already on the program. We have also opened up our community wi-fi to allow free public access points in an effort to provide connectivity to all who need it.”
HBC monitors Internet traffic patterns and usage 24/7 and has multiple types of access networks including Fiber to the Home, DOCSIS 3.1, and Fixed Wireless access (HBC Air). According to Jim Kronebusch, VP for Technology and Engineering, HBC consistently maintains and upgrades its networks every year to be able to handle network demands 3 to 5 years out. The core network has three geo-redundant paths to the Internet providing for reliable and scalable service. At its core, HBC deploys caching servers and partners with peering networks to keep data as close to our customers as possible for low latency and fast access to services such as streaming and social media.
“The consistent actions we’ve taken to upgrade and enhance our networks each year allows our Internet customers to utilize all the bandwidth they need today and into the future,” said Kronebusch. “With customers at home doing schoolwork and working from home, along with high levels of streaming and video conferencing, all this expanded use has been very manageable”.
HBC also provides a managed Wi-Fi router for nearly all its customers and this has been instrumental in insuring consistent speed and reliability within the home for greater network usage and a growing number of devices.
“Our network operations team and technical support groups have thousands of monitoring agents configured to keep an eye on the health of our network 24/7/365 to alert us to any service change detected in the various networks,” Kronebusch said. “Our networks have substantial capacity to handle the added network activity and will continue to rapidly adapt and grow as we proactively expand for future use.”
HBC will remain open through this crisis, but Pecarina said they have introduced a number of protocols in an effort to protect the safety of employees and customers.
“Our offices remain open, by appointment only, for customers to pick up or drop off equipment,” said Pecarina. “Before an appointment is made, we are asking that customers answer some basic health questions to minimize virus exposure and spread. And our installation team members have been equipped with respirator masks, rubber gloves, and boot covers to ensure we are not compromising the health and well-being of either our customers or employees.”
More than 90% of HBC’s office workers are now working from home, travel restrictions have been implemented, and strict health guidelines have been placed on all employees.
“We have a strong, focused commitment to the communities we serve and to all the customers that depend on our service every day.” Pecarina said. “HBC employees are friends and neighbors in these communities and take pride in providing the essential services delivered by HBC.”
HBC is actively installing services, monitoring networks, and maintaining services to provide the performance and reliability to meet the demands throughout this crisis.