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Is Internet access an Essential Service during a time of disaster?

Is Internet access an Essential Service during a time of disaster?

Monday this last week I was on a phone call with several other Internet Service Providers (ISP) and leaders in the telecommunications sector. The discussion was around where ISPs stand in the big picture, and if we are an essential service.

Last week, the State of Pennsylvania was the first to announce businesses that are not considered ‘life-sustaining’ are ordered to close.

California, New York State, along with many others followed suite with an order to keep all workers home for nonessential businesses.

Oregon also created the ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ order which has closed all non-essential businesses effective 3/25.

In all the uncertainty around us right now, we all need communication with one another to ensure that we are getting the information we need, the work done we need to, or just to have a distraction from the cabin fever we may be experiencing!

Alyrica is considered an essential service by the Department of Homeland Security, the World Health Organization and others

That conference call on Monday was an eye opener for me. I knew that the work we do everyday matters and we provide a great service to our community. I realized that what we are doing now, more than ever, is crucial for our customers and our community.

Many people can’t work from home due to the nature of their work and I understand that. With schools all moving online for the foreseeable future, it brought an even greater need than thought originally.

Here is a great explanation on “What are Essential Services?” as well as an outline of the Department of Homeland Security’s Critical Infrastructure Sectors.

For our customers and our businesses; Alyrica is here for you through this ordeal.

I have heard in other parts of the world that the Internet is getting saturated; what is Alyrica doing to mitigate that?

Every part of the world is seeing an increase in internet traffic. Some are even wondering if the internet as a whole can handle such an increase in demand. To calm those fears; the internet is not going to implode on itself.

Alyrica builds and maintains its own network. This means that we do not go over third-party ‘subscriber lines’ to people’s houses like other providers might do. What that means for our customers is that we have control over the end user experience.

Since we are continually upgrading and making our network more robust with more headroom and multiple paths to ‘the internet’ we are in the best possible position as traffic increases.

We certainly have seen an increase in traffic over the last couple weeks, but we are in a great position in terms of overall bandwidth. We are sure to see even more drastic increases on our network and we have the capacity to handle it.

As demand continues to increase, what are the bottlenecks and what can people expect in the months and years to come?

The bottleneck for most internet users is in the ‘last-mile’ which I talk about at length here: Internet Delivery Methods.

The last mile to each individual customer is where the pain point is for people. For example if Alyrica has 4 upstream or ‘middle-mile’ 10 Gbps fiber optic paths to ‘The Internet’ that is not the bottleneck since total traffic demand during peak hours is less than 20% of those upstream paths. This is true for most networks, hence, the issue being the ‘last-mile.’

Alyrica’s last mile is either fiber-optic or fixed wireless. For our fiber optic customers they will not have any issues at all in term of capacity or transport to their residence or business and the most common issue they will experience is the WiFi inside.

Our fixed wireless towers have the limitation of frequency allocation and access point (AP) capacity. We continually monitor each AP’s capacity to ensure that our customers do not see their connection slow down. We are not perfect by any means, but we are committed to staying ahead of this curve.

What do I need to do if I am on a limited connection or I am not getting the speed I need to work or do school?

First off, I encourage our customers to give us a call! There are many times we hear from customers that have been suffering with slow speeds for weeks before they give us a call. We do our best to monitor the health of the network, but for the individual user, we don’t monitor individual connections and don’t know if people are having a hard time until they call us!

Common issues break down into a few buckets:

  • WiFi Issues: This is the most common support call we receive; one device is not working like it should. We can help troubleshoot to find the device and see if the WiFi is strong enough throughout the house. We have a service called Whole Home WiFi that can help here.
  • Maxing out the plan: We see this fairly frequently as well. Right now we are seeing this frequently as families are all working/doing school from home simultaneously. These multiple streams (if they are video conferencing) will use more bandwidth. We don’t sell people more than they need, but in some cases it is the right call to upgrade the plan to the next tier. Check out How Much Speed Do I Need?
  • The AP a customer is on is reaching capacity: We do monitor for this and know about these issues before customers do, and have plans for upgrading. Sometimes customers do notice this, but we already have a plan in place that we may not have completed yet. In these situations we help people understand peak hours, optimizing the connection, etc. These are usually temporary until we complete the upgrade to their area.

Bottom line, CALL US! We are here to help and have the best people to answer questions, fix issues, etc.

Solution oriented, friendly customer service; that’s Alyrica!

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