Almost everyone is online right now, but participating in the digital economy — be it socially or for productivity — entails one key ingredient: Internet connection.
Without this vital requirement, people would find it hard to cope with the effects of community quarantines imposed to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). Today, more than ever, people are connecting to the Internet to work, study, sell, buy, and transact.
But behind the world’s greatest equalizer are people who ensure that we are connected to the Internet — the linemen and women who work day in and day out almost every day, every week to help bring homes online.
Take broadband installer Larry Antenor, for instance, who has been working with JBD Telecom for over seven years now. Antenor, together with other Globe broadband specialists, are braving the risk coming in and out of several homes per day despite the threat of contracting Covid-19.
“We strive hard to finish our work and it’s hard right now because people are scared of us despite wearing our uniforms, IDs, and having job orders — they are scared that we are vectors of Covid-19,” Antenor says.
He recalls instances where subscribers cancelled their broadband installation orders because they are being dissuaded by friends and loved ones from allowing other people to come into their homes.
“We get cancellations despite wearing complete safety gears. Sometimes, even after we arrive, they ask for us to cancel their orders because we have been to other homes before them,” Antenor says.
Richard Teodoro, who works as a broadband specialist for Jedlian Communications in Baguio, notes that despite being appreciative of his work, he is also scared for his and his wife and kid’s lives.
“I’m sometimes scared because we interact with a lot of people and there are times when we are uncertain if the area is infected or not. But we are doing what we can to serve our customers,” he says.
Teodoro’s company, he says, also gives its workers additional pay for their service despite the national health crisis.
For Joselito Mercado, a broadband technician at NBN Telecom Services, it is important to keep oneself safe from the virus. He shares that he constantly disinfects himself and uses protective gears to avoid contracting the deadly respiratory virus.
“It’s a big part for me to work because we have to maintain and connect the subscribers of Globe to the internet,” he says. “We really have to be careful and use personal protective equipment for safety.”
Globe, for its part, expressed gratitude and extended full support to its workers, who make sure that telecom services are always available to the country and its citizens.
“Our critical skeletal team of technicians are hard at work to provide support for Globe At Home broadband lines so that our customers remain productive, connected and informed. In line with this, we continue to implement stringent health check protocols to ensure the overall safety and well-being of our customers, our installers and repairmen,” Globe SVP Martha Sazon says.
For all three broadband specialists, working during these trying times is heartwarming, especially when customers thank them for their service.
“It’s very rewarding now that we are helping people like call center workers who are home-based. We are really helping people who need Internet connection,” Antenor says.
Coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic has lately focused—and rightly so—on the invaluable sacrifices of the medical frontliners who go beyond the call of duty to save as many patients as possible.
The difficulties arising from Covid-19 and the extreme measures it has forced authorities to impose, such as the lockdowns, are also being eased, however, by some people whose work may not easily draw attention, but is nonetheless vital to making our lives as normal as possible.
They are the “backliners”—the grocery store staff and market vendors who make sure we can buy basic items; the farmers and fishermen who put food in our markets and groceries; the bank employees; the Customs inspectors who must quickly clear cargo, especially vital equipment and supplies to fight the virus; pharmacists, garbage men, and the engineers and workmen who must rush to build or retrofit off-hospital quarantine centers, among others.
They cannot “stay at home” because they have tasks indispensable in this crisis.
In this series, the BusinessMirror pays tribute to them.
In the spirit of bayanihan, the SM Group is actively supporting our frontliners in the fight against the pandemic. Since the Luzon-wide ECQ started, SM has reached out to over 100 hospitals and medical facilities as well as over 170 government and private institutions around the country donating food, PPEs, medicines, medical equipment and other critical medical supplies. These are part of P270 million contribution by the company to help the government and augment the frontliners’ fight against Covid-19.