When the COVID-19 crisis emerged this year and then quickly escalated into a pandemic that changed everyone’s lives seemingly overnight, the wireless infrastructure industry was in a unique position to have an immediate positive impact by providing the connectivity people needed to continue to work, learn and stay in touch with family and friends. When schools closed and businesses sent their employees home to work remotely, the nation’s wireless networks provided essential connectivity and the nation’s service providers pledged not to terminate service to customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to coronavirus disruptions. They waived late fees and opened up Wi-Fi hotspots so Americans are able to remain connected despite stay-at-home orders and business disruptions, and they launched initiatives to facilitate distance learning and support frontline healthcare workers and first responders.
In the days and weeks that followed, many other companies have stepped up to the plate and found ways that they can use their talents and expertise to positively impact their communities. Companies in the wireless infrastructure industry have made sure mobile COVID-19 test facilities have communications capabilities and have helped develop medical equipment. Businesses have come together with their employees to address humanitarian crises in their communities, including helping to feed children who normally eat at school and checking in on vulnerable fellow citizens.
WIA is proud of our member companies and their employees who are finding big and small ways to make an impact on their communities during this unprecedented time.
Advantage Engineers has been busy keeping its critical communications and other clients connected. The company recently facilitated an emergency site antenna modification to ensure a local police department and other first responders had enough capacity to continue serving their communities, and it has helped its carrier partners provide capacity at mobile COVID-19 test sites. Advantage Engineers rewarded its hard-working employees with a companywide mental health day April 10 and gave each employee a $50 gift card that they could use to support local businesses.
American Tower is committed to ensuring its wireless infrastructure – nearly 180,000 towers throughout the world – supports the wireless voice and broadband networks that keep us connected. “As we work together to respond to the global health crisis, American Tower continues to prioritize the health and safety of our tenants, vendors, employees and communities. We are working to make certain our tenants can safely install and upgrade their wireless networks while adhering to health and safety protocols so that our essential employees in the field can perform work. In addition, we are equipping employees with everything they need to work effectively from home. American Tower is working with local, national and global organizations to support COVID-19 response efforts, including the American Red Cross, UNICEF, Project Hope, Partners in Health Organization, Boston Resiliency Fund, the Greater Boston Food Bank, PM CARES Fund (India) and many more.”
AT&T announced support for its employees by instituting a 20-percent bonus above the regular hourly base rate to our frontline union employees and is offering up to 160 hours of paid leave for employees impacted by the virus. In addition, the company is offering its fleet of 76 deployable cell sites to free to public-safety agencies on the FirstNet network and waiving fees for military personnel stationed on Navy ships. The service provider is supporting distance learning with a $10 million donation and is working through many organizations, including the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) and Khan Academy to provide resources to students now learning at home. See how AT&T employees are people are practicing social distancing and staying #ConnectedTogether, whether it’s through an act of kindness for their community or spending time with their coworkers.
Boingo is the largest provider of Wi-Fi and IPTV broadband services for the barracks and dorms on U.S. Army, Air Force and Marines bases around the world. During this unprecedented time, Boingo is currently offering its broadband service for free to service members in quarantine barracks covering more than 7,000 beds, helping them stay connected to friends, family and their favorite streaming and gaming platforms. Boingo’s field marketing team has also distributed care packages to troops, filled with essentials like food and soap, and fun activities including puzzles and board games. “Connectivity has never been so important. Boingo is working to do our part during these extraordinary times by supporting those who support us,” said Bruce Crair, SVP and GM of Boingo’s military business. Boingo’s award-winning broadband service is designed with portable features to suit troops’ lifestyles with no contract, installation appointment or truck roll required. Service men and women can simply sign up for a Boingo plan at boingo.com or from their barrack to connect instantly. The plan works on any Boingo-networked base.
CommScope is responding to the COVID-19 crisis in a variety of ways, from donating products and expediting delivery of of systems to connect new hospitals being built to support patients afflicted with the virus to donating outdoor wireless access points and switches for emergency healthcare delivery and homework hot spots. The company is working with school districts, partners and service providers to extend coverage outdoors and equip school buses with outdoor access points with LTE backhaul and PoE switching. CommScope employees are rounding up safety glasses and masks to donate to local healthcare facilities, and the company has made financial donations to organizations including the American Red Cross, the Goa State COVID-19 Relief Account in India, the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC), and United Way Chihuahua, Mexico. CommScope is matching employee donations to selected global hunger relief organizations and allowing salaried employees to use paid leave to support COVID-19 related community outreach efforts, including check-ins with retired employees to provide support if needed.
“CommScope recognizes the need for the private sector to assist in the current crisis. We are working with organizations and communities around the world to provide much needed communications equipment and expertise to support critical industries that are serving our communities,” said Eddie Edwards, president and chief executive officer at CommScope. “The actions we are taking align to CommScope’s Purpose, Vision and Values, which is why our teams across the globe are reaching out to local organizations to get students connected for distance learning and to offer relief to industries that are being hit hard at this time.”
“We are also taking this time to focus on donating talent, time and treasure to help with some of the greatest humanitarian needs,” said Robyn Mingle, senior vice president and Chief Human Resources Officer. “We’ve created these lasting connections with our employees, partners and customers and now is the time for us to show our support.”
As part of its Connected by Good program, Crown Castle donated to non-profit organizations and school district foundations across the country to quickly get laptops and mobile hotspots to students who need them, including those experiencing transitional housing. Crown Castle’s donations to 20 organizations will impact over 55,000 students and families across 15 cities by ensuring students are able to access the technology they need to for distance learning.
#C2K wants to send a BIG thank you to #CrownCastle for supporting our distribution of over 6,000 systems since school closures on March 16th. Together, we are #ConnectedByGood pic.twitter.com/UzLL0C22dT
— Computers2sdkids (@C2SDKids) April 16, 2020
In addition to loaning almost its entire portfolio of wireless spectrum to the nation’s largest wireless carriers to provide immediate capacity in the early days and weeks of the COVID-19 crisis, Dish Network also is lending its talents to helping frontline health care workers stay safe. The company’s manufacturing team in El Paso, Texas, made thousands of face shields for health care workers. “This was the perfect, perfect opportunity for us to help our community,” said Guillermo Ramirez, manufacturing general manager.
Fidelity National Title Insurance Co.
Members of the Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. are impacting their communities through a variety of individual efforts. Eileen Hastings, National Business Development Manager, volunteers with Central Virginia Feedmore, helping pack backpacks for children who are normally fed at school, senior commodity boxes and kitchen prep. Lisa Townsend-Reed, National Business Development Manager, is helping local animal shelters in and around Richmond, Virginia, care for dogs during the pandemic. Townsend-Reed has been helping with fostering dogs and helping them get adopted.
Graybar is helping out its employees, retirees, clients and community via a variety of local efforts, including sourcing materials to help build temporary hospitals, donating protective equipment to health care workers and first responders, and even checking in with company retirees. Employees in Louisville recently provided groceries to a local retiree and his wife when local grocery store were running four days behind. The branch is checking in weekly on the couple to make sure they are doing well during this time.
5G wireless technology company JMA Wireless formed PREVAIL NY, an LLC dedicated to the design and manufacture of an emergency mechanical ventilation system. The plans for the device are available as a free, open-source design for manufacturers globally. “Two weeks ago we heard the plea around the world for more ventilators,” said Dave Jackson, president of transmission line systems at JMA. “We sat down to determine what we could do to help with our engineering talent and manufacturing capabilities. In only a week and a half, the team developed a manufacturable design that we call ‘PREVAIL NY.’” JMA led the joint effort that includes Dr. John Callahan, a physician of internal medicine, and Syracuse University. In preclinical testing, the system was able to provide and restore ventilation in acute respiratory distress syndrome-damaged lungs.
More than 30 production employees at John Deere’s Moline Seeding Group factory shifted their focus for a day to making thousands of face shields for those working on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. They initially aimed to produce 25,000 face shields but have expanded their goal to an additional 200,000 shields. “This is kind of like our Rosie the Riveter moment,” said Jerry Miller Jr. (below), a 22-year veteran of John Deere. “To be able to say I helped contribute to helping protect people from getting sick, that’s personal pride for me.”
Learning Alliance worked with CIE to gain approval for temporary e-learning for our programs so that career training can continue. The company launched a new learning platform that comprises 15 learning modules, spanning 70 hours of education specific to TIRAP’s pre-apprentice requirements. This has made it possible for the company to serve veterans during the COVID-19 slow down. LAC currently has 62 veterans enrolled who will be looking for employment within the industry after completing their hands-on competencies at the company’s Tampa facility. In addition, Learning Alliance developed an online portal for the students to obtain all of their information, transcripts and certifications that they produce during their e-learning.
Network Building + Consulting
Network Building + Consulting launched partnerships with local food banks in all five of its markets in response to COVID-19 and the tremendous need that is taking place for families in its local communities. “NB+C is partnering with local food banks/pantries in all 5 of our markets to raise funds for individuals and families who are struggling with hunger during this extraordinary time of need. In addition to individual donations collected, NB+C is kicking off this fundraiser with a $500 donation to each of the chosen organizations.” The company also has an internal outreach program for its youngest staff members. The “Distance Learning Program” allows employees to borrow computers for their children who are learning at home. “Many families have several children and do not have enough computers in their homes for each child to use for their classes. We are so pleased to be able to serve our families in this capacity.”
During this extraordinary time of need, NB+C is proud to partner with 5 of our local food banks to help raise funds for individuals and families struggling with hunger. #COVID19 #GivingBack pic.twitter.com/JEao2I3o9E
— NB+C (@NBC_Wireless) April 22, 2020
Early in the COVID-19 crisis, Sitetracker set out to unite the industry with its #togetherapart social media campaign, which challenged employees across the industry to share their new work-from-home workstations to demonstrate that we remain together even though we are physically apart. The company also reached out to the larger community through a companywide campaign that provided more than 30,000 meals for underprivileged people around the world, and it reached out to its clients on the front lines keeping networks connected with care packages. Importantly, Sitetracker also studied the impact of COVID-19 on the wireless infrastructure industry with an addendum to its annual telecom industry survey.
State Wireless Association Program
The State Wireless Association Program (SWAP) assisted several member organizations with creating job boards to help connect companies with jobs available to job seekers in their markets. Carolinas Wireless Association, New Jersey Wireless Association, Northwest Wireless Association, Pennsylvania Wireless Association and Virginia Wireless Association have each posted job boards on their sites.
Telamon contributed to the Indianapolis E-Learning Fund, which launched recently with $2.6 million in support from a coalition of local foundations, companies, and nonprofit organizations. The fund will support Marion County, Indiana, students with access to technology, social and emotional learning resources, and more in response to COVID-19 related school building closures.
Tilson recognizes the challenges ahead for many business owners, employees, and their customers who need to smoothly and quickly shift vital operations from the office to the home. That’s why the company is offering its customers 90-minute consultations tailored to their area of need to support them through this challenging time, free of charge. Tilson’s team of experienced IT, business process, software, and security consultants are available to help with configuring ERP software for remote success, continuing to keep connections secure and optimizing business processes. “We want to do something to help our community and I’m not inclined to sit back and just wait to see what happens in the greater economy, when we have the power to make a difference,” said Tracy Bell, Director of Construction IT Consulting at Tilson. “So to the extent we have availability during this chaotic time in our society, we want to give away some free consulting to help other businesses get back to work or smooth out inefficiencies, and keep us all moving forward.”
Tilson also remains busy in the field, ensuring connectivity for public safety, military communications and citizens working from home.
In addition to working around the clock to keep customers and businesses connected, T-Mobile is also focused on bridging the gap between students and teachers by working with school districts to quickly get internet access to students in need, and it is helping Stanford Medicine to get the word out about its recently released National Daily Health Survey For Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) study with a goal to mobilize survey responses from people across the country so researchers can better track and understand the spread of COVID-19. In its signature off-beat style, T-Mobile also pledged up to $500,000 to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America COVID-19 Relief Fund via its #GiveThanksNotPranks campaign launched April 1 in place of its traditional annual April Fool’s Day prank (see the 2018 Sidekick shoe phone prank). The carrier donated $1 for every Twitter post using the #GiveThanksNotPranks hashtag up to $200,000 and matched donations up to $300,000 when customers made text donations using the word THANKS.
The company also is providing encouragement to its employees, customers and fans who are navigating a new normal during the COVID-19 crisis by sharing encouraging perspectives from its own employees who are working from home.
University of New Mexico
Mark Reynolds, Associate Director IT for the University of New Mexico, provided the following update on his department’s efforts to support the university, including a tier-one trauma center, during the COVID-19 crisis. “We are now online with extended learning for the students for the interim and faculty teaching remotely. We provide 20,000 voice connections for all of the agencies responsible for cellular, 911, emergency devices, fire, security, and other services with on-premise solutions and are now pushing content and support remotely. My boots-on-the-ground team are required to wear masks, gloves, scrubs to work in various environments. As a provider of voice services, we continue to adjust accordingly. We not only support the hospital, first responders, police, fire and volunteers, but we also appreciate all they do for the university to make it safe and at the hospital to provide the highest quality of patient support.”
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, Verizon has committed $45 million in contributions and donations to nonprofits directed at serving students, healthcare workers, first responders, and small businesses. Starting April 23, Verizon is expanding its best wireless unlimited pricing to nurses, who are doing such critical work keeping our friends, family and neighbors cared for, and teachers, who are keeping our students engaged and learning. They join active-duty military, veterans and people who work as first responders who already benefit from this ongoing pricing for their personal accounts and for their families. In addition, Verizon is working in local communities to provide meals for first responders, donating to the American Red Cross to fund blood drives, supporting distance learning and helping small businesses.
How is your company helping in the community during these unprecedented times? Share details by emailing Kristen.Beckman@WIA.org.