At a time when Americans are becoming increasingly homebound to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, Canby's local internet provider DirectLink is stepping up to ensure everyone has internet access.
The co-op, which serves both Canby and Mt. Angel, has been in conversations with the school districts and has agreed to offer some free services to ensure students have access. But according to President Paul Hauer, DirectLink is also concerned about people who now must work from home and those facing unemployment.
"We certainly want to assist in any way we can," Hauer said.
So, starting on Wednesday, March 18 and continuing for the following 60 days, DirectLink will offer free broadband service to new subscribers who have students or are facing a work-from-home situation and will offer a free speed upgrade to existing subscribers in those categories.
Furthermore, DirectLink signed the Federal Communications Commission pledge to "Keep Americans Connected."
With the pledge, DirectLink joins hundreds of broadband and telephone providers in agreeing to not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, to waive any late fees these customers incur because of economic circumstances related to the pandemic, and to open its wi-fi hotspots to any American who needs them.
"It's critical that Americans stay connected throughout the coronavirus pandemic so that they can remain in touch with loved ones, telework, engage in remote learning, participate in telehealth, and maintain the social distancing that is so important to combatting the spread of the virus," said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a press release. "The Keep Americans Connected Pledge is a critical step toward accomplishing that goal."
DirectLink was not obligated to provide any of these services and breaks but did so electively.
"We're a co-op anyway, and so we try to do the best we can," Hauer said. "In times like these, there's so much uncertainty."
Hauer said if the company can alleviate some of people's concerns, they choose to do so.
"We want to make sure they have connectivity," he said.
For those who have a school or work need and wish to take advantage of the opportunity for free or upgraded service, call DirectLink at 503-266-8111. DirectLink will take callers at their word, Hauer said.
DirectLink did note on its website that the program will be available while policies allow employees to install services and is subject to change.
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