Executive Insights With Jens Laipenieks, CEO/GM of Arctic Slope Telephone Association Cooperative, Inc. (ASTAC)

Jens Laipenieks of ASTAC

By Sharon Vollman

TOPIC: COVID-19

Sharon Vollman, ISE: How has the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic impacted your company, customers, AND team members?

Jens Laipenieks: The pandemic has significantly impacted all aspects of our Cooperative. Fortunately, we were well prepared to make the shift to work from home even before the rollout of the official hunker-down orders hit Alaska. Our corporate strategy over the past few years has included investments to modernize and automate wherever feasible. A few years ago, we transitioned entirely to Office365 and fully adopted Microsoft Teams and SharePoint as our internal comms platform. We had also updated our VPN platform and phone system to enable a fully decentralized call center and workforce. These investments allowed us to quickly adapt to COVID-19 and to continue to evolve as our needs change.

The entire ASTAC team, from leadership to field technicians, has stepped up to every challenge COVID-19 has thrown at us. In many ways, the pandemic has proven ASTAC’s ability to be nimble, creative, and remain customer-focused, all while protecting the health and wellbeing of our employees.

ASTAC’s members are our top priority, which is the most special part of working for a Cooperative. ASTAC joined the FCC’s Keep America Connected Pledge almost immediately, and quickly launched an Internet service credit for those working and learning/teaching from home. Like all ISPs, we saw our network usage jump; the peak hour traffic graph spread from 5-6 hours to about 20 hours per day. We were fortunate to benefit from the generosity of our underlying Middle Mile provider who gifted us increased capacity during the surge.

Jens Laipenieks talks about deploying FTTx in the North Slope of Alaska, COVID-19 network impact, and Alaskans’ telecom network needs.

Originally published on isemag.com September 1, 2020