The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every area of our lives. And it is impacting operations and policies of many Iowa municipal broadband providers.
Several municipal broadband providers are limiting public access to their customer service centers to protect their employees and the public from the spread of the virus. Cedar Falls Utilities for example will still have customer service personnel available to answer questions, handle billing questions and taking payments electronically, etc. during normal business hours. But customers will not be able to enter their customer service center.
“In the interest of the safety and well-being of our customers and staff, we are closing our office to the public and asking certain employees to work from home,” said CFU General Manager Steve Bernard. “As COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, we feel compelled to practice social distancing and do our part to slow transmission.” - CFU General Manager Steve Bernard (news release on CFU website)
Closing the office to walk-in traffic is one of the most common responses to COVID-19. And email request and a quick review of websites show that Waverly Utilities, the City of Bellevue, Alta Municipal Utilities, Osage Municipal Utilities, Spencer Municipal Utilities, Indianola Municipal Utilities, Algona Municipal Utilities, Harlan Municipal Utilities, Muscatine Power & Water, and likely others are restricting public access to their facilities.
The virus is also limiting or ending technician visits to customers' homes or businesses. Most Iowa municipals have cancelled or rescheduled service calls for new service. Work that can be done outside the home or business without direct contact with customers continues, for the most part, to continue as normal.
Across the industry, most broadband providers have adjusted policies and hours to comply with advisories from public health officials. And in recognition of the needs of customers who may be isolated in their homes for weeks or longer, some providers have taken additional steps, such as removing data caps, increasing speeds temporarily, or suspending non-pay disconnections.
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