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COVID-19: Shelter-at-home causes surge in online activity

Vicky O. Misa

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. If local news is important to you, please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Shawnee News-Star at news-star.com/subscribe.]

With a vast majority of Americans at home, whether it's working, doing school work or just surfing the web, online activity has increased over the past few weeks.

Vyve Broadband Senior VP of Marketing Diane Quennoz said the internet provider is proud to be a vital part of keeping Shawnee connected and being a good community partner.

She said Vyve has partnered with the Shawnee Public Schools to help families in need with online e-learning and are working with families and business who have been financially impacted by the COVID-19 virus.

“We provide a vital service that everyone will be counting on over the next several months,” she said. “As our students and workforces are shifting to the home, we want to let you know that our networks and teams are built to keep you connected,” Vyve CEO Phil Spencer said.

While Vyve reports it has seen a 20.1 percent bandwidth utilization (bits per second) growth from the first week in March to the third week in March, last week was relatively flat in growth from the third week.

“In Shawnee specifically, we have only seen a 12 percent growth in bandwidth utilization (bits per second) growth from the first week in March to the third,” Quennoz said. “Vyve engineers our network for peak utilization and we forecast growth many months in advance; we have the network to handle the additional usage here in Shawnee.”

New installs

Installation procedures have gone curbside, as Vyve has removed much of the direct contact typically encountered by workers.

“We have launched a new self-install program called Drop and Go,” Quennoz explained. “To continue to provide this essential service to our customers, and to protect our technicians and customers, the Drop and Go will replace traditional professional installs.”

She said technicians complete their work outside the home, then drop off the equipment with a welcome kit and complete installation instructions at the door.

“There is no installation cost or charge for this home drop-off service and installation,” she said.

Other precautions

Vyve has implemented extra precautions at its facilities, retail stores and home visits including:

Following the CDC’s recommendation for frequent handwashing. Including posting signs as a reminder.

Asking employees to wear gloves during installations and repairs, front counter transactions, and while handling customer equipment.

Regularly sanitizing the computer keyboards, countertops, door handles, pens, and credit card machines at our locations.

Quarantining and sanitizing our returned equipment.

Encouraging the practice of social distancing in our offices and in customer homes and locations.

Bill payment

According to its website, at vyvebroadband.com, Vyve has joined Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai in a pledge to Keep Americans Connected, and will work with its residential and small business customers who are financially impacted by COVID-19 to keep them connected to their Internet and Phone service.

“We are working with local leaders to help support keeping communities connected and also invite residents in need to use WiFi in the proximity of our local offices,” the website states.

As part of this pledge, Vyve will, for the next 60 days, waive late fees and not disconnect Internet or Phone service to any residential or small business customer that calls to inform the company of their inability to pay bills due to the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Additionally, customer care teams will offer flexible payment options to help see customers through this time.