By CRISTINA JANNEY
Although more people are working from home and K-12 students are likely to start learning online soon, local internet companies are saying they are prepared for the increased traffic.
Dustin Schlaefli, Nex-Tech director of customer engagement, said Friday that although Nex-Tech has seen an increase in traffic during what is normally non-peak hours, the company has plenty of bandwidth to handle the increased use.
Nex-Tech is monitoring network traffic, but Schlaefli said he did not anticipate customers will experience any disruption of service or buffering.
Eagle Broadband also said it has plenty of bandwidth to deal with the increase in traffic.
"Our network is built to keep everyone connected during peak usage time in the evening," said Diane Quennoz, senior vice president of marketing for Vyve, Eagle Broadband's parent company. "As students and the workforce shift, we can definitely handle the traffic for school, work, online health and entertainment.
"We are dedicated to providing our customers the optimum experience."
Nex-Tech is allowing customers to increase their internet speed for three months for free to help them keep up with children being home from school and people working from home.
"Normal customers might typically watch Netflix or use it for checking email, but they might bring four kids online, using video and gaming, and they may have some issues and might want to upgrade speed as needed," Schlaefli said.
Nex-Tech does not limit data on broadband, so customers don't have to worry about data caps or overages.
Both Nex-Tech and Eagle Broadband said they are working with individual school districts to ensure children will be able to continue to learn during the virus outbreak.
Nex-Tech is also working with the 250 businesses in its service area that provide free wifi to boost wifi service. Schlaefli noted in Hays, there is free wifi access at the Bickle-Schmidt Sports Complex.
"In a worst case, you could drive to sports complex and get on that wifi hot spot," he said. "It is not ideal, but this is not ideal circumstances."
Eagle is also working with its business customers to boost access to free wifi, so people who need it can access the service from their vehicles or outside of business without going in, Quennoz said.
Internet and phone service are both considered essential services during the coronavirus outbreak. Both companies are honoring the call to work with clients who may be in danger of disconnect due to the coronavirus crisis.
Eagle Broadband will not disconnect phone or internet service for 60 days. Customers who are struggling to pay their bills need to contact customer service to make payment arrangements.
Schlaefli said Nex-Tech would follow Gov. Laura Kelly's direction and work with customers to delay disconnects of internet during the crisis. He urged customers affected by the crisis to contact Nex-Tech customer service if they are having difficulty paying their bills.
Customer service still available
Nex-Tech announced it will be closing its customer service centers to public. However, customers assistance is still available.
Nex-Tech is still sending techs to homes to do installs and fix problems. However, it has implemented precautions to protect both employees and customers.
The customers will be asked a series of questions about illness in their homes as well as travel. Techs will call the house before they arrive to repeat the questions.
"We don't want to put employees in harm's way," Schlaefli said.
He said the company has prepared a contingency plan for employees to work from home if needed.
You can reach Nex-Tech customer service online.
As of Friday, Eagle's customers service centers were open, Quennoz said. However, she said Eagle was monitoring the situation on a daily basis.
Quennoz said many of the Eagle's services can be conducted over the phone or online.
She said some people are calling for tech-support, but the she said technical support is maintaining the work load and customers have been happy.
Eagle is also taking added precautions during in-person service calls in light of the coronavirus outbreak. Techs will call ahead and ask a series of questions about illness within homes. Employees will also being using gloves and hand sanitizer while conducting customer transactions.
"Our techs are continuing to work within homes," Quennoz said. "We are committed to following guidance of the CDC and public health organizations."
Quennoz added, "Nothing is more important to us than the well-being of customers, employees and communities. We are continuing to work within the CDC recommendations at our retail centers, sanitizing keyboards and doorhandles and practicing social distancing.
"As we work in customers' homes and locations we are also very aware of that."
Keep up to date at https://eaglecom.net/covid19-updates