Winona, MN – Hiawatha Broadband Communications, Inc. (HBC) is taking additional measures to protect customers from losing essential broadband services by extending the Federal Communications Commission’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge.
“Many of our customers continue to endure significant financial challenges because of COVID-19,” HBC President Dan Pecarina said. “HBC understands that and is committed to helping our most financially vulnerable customers keep their services which have become even more essential in this pandemic environment because of online learning and working from home.”
Extension of the Keep Americans Connected Pledge means:
-Free broadband service to qualified low-income households. Eligible households must have school-aged children enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program or the Telephone Assistance Plan (TAP).
-Temporarily suspending disconnections of service due to failure to pay and waiving late fees for customers.
-Maintaining free access to HBC Community Wi-Fi hotspots.
Since signing the initial FCC pledge in March, HBC has worked with 12 school districts across all its service communities to make sure each student, their families, and teachers would have access to broadband for both education and working from home through its wired and wireless networks. HBC continues to make all its community Wi-Fi access points available free of charge.
Throughout this pandemic, HBC Installation Technicians have been safely connecting and servicing customers while following strict safety protocols. All employees must pass a daily health screening which includes temperature checks, before being allowed to serve customers. All local HBC offices are open by appointment only with customers being asked to answer several health-related questions prior to scheduling any appointment. These protocols will remain in place to protect our customers and employees and to help stop the spread of COVID-19. HBC is proud to report that these precautions have kept all employees healthy and virus free.
According to Pecarina, HBC will continue to implement these safety measures as long as they are needed.
“It is important that we do everything thing we can to be able to safely serve our customers and continue to provide them with the tools they need to be successful in both work and school,” Pecarina said. “HBC is committed to providing access to technology and high-speed broadband connectivity to make available learning resources required by families with school-aged children.”
HBC has also worked with local and area schools to provide live coverage of socially distanced graduation ceremonies allowing distant family members to celebrate this milestone event. In addition to being broadcast live on HBC Channel 25, ceremonies are also live streamed around the world where nearly 1,000 households have viewed these broadcasts.