These are certainly challenging times as our entire country (actually, our entire world) has hunkered down as we watch this unprecedented epidemic of COVID-19 sweep across the globe. Even as we have all struggled to figure out how to keep our staffs, our colleagues and our families safe during these unsettled times, at NTCA we have also really focused on the resources that will be useful to our member companies across the country as they also look to maintain their critical operations – even more critical today given our dependency on remote work and education and even healthcare for millions of Americans.
To that end, NTCA has created a special section of our website that is devoted to resources that might be helpful to rural broadband providers across the country – and a site that is updated regularly. From business tips to healthcare updates to the Pandemic Influenza Guide for an Emergency from DHS and even examples of table top exercises in case of a pandemic.
We have included the list of meetings running through May 6th for which we have cancelled the in-person events. We are doing this based on guidance from the CDC advising the cancellation of events with 50 or more people for the next 8 week and prior to the newest directive to not have more than 10 people gathering at one time. It broke my heart to postpone/alter our Telecom Executive Forum this week and our annual Washington DC fly-in later in April – but it just felt in our collective sense that this move was the right one to make. Now I remain hopeful that the hotel locations will also make the right move in being fair to a nonprofit who is on the front line for absorbing meeting cancellation expenses….even a step before the hotels themselves! This might actually be just the push we needed to try some virtual meetings…stay tuned and check it out at www.ntca.org under News.
We are also hosting a webinar March 18, at 2:00 p.m. EST in partnership with our friends at the Telecom Insurance Group (TIG) to talk about business continuity considerations for small telcos. We will also be continuing to follow along and share our interactions from DHS and CISA and look to give a weekly Monday afternoon readout along with our partners at USTelecom going forward. Access to national security resources has also given NTCA access to have our membership have the ability to obtain National Communications Coordination Access and Fuel letters to support any communications service recovery/restoration activity that might be adversely impacted. Those kinds of relationships are key in these trying times and our team is working 24/7 to deal with rapidly changing requirements, support and ways to support our carriers.
Chairman Pai included NTCA in a call last week to invite our members to take the Keep Americans Connected pledge and we, as an organization, committed ourselves to helping support our members as well as working with the FCC and other key agencies to keep our members up and running. After all, the key underlying service critical to keep the American economy moving forward right now is indeed broadband access and connectivity.
More to follow as legislation and special actions make their way through Washington but know that our team has stayed so focused and connected, that I am already thinking I will need to be reminding them to disconnect a little bit, brush their teeth and maybe take the dog for a walk to clear their head…as long as they maintain the pattern of social distancing from their neighbors doing the same.