Halstad Telephone offering free basic internet service to parents this spring

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Posted: Friday, March 20, 2020 6:00 am

Halstad Telephone Co. is lending its support to those in need during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

For the rest of the school year, the Halstad, Minn.-based telecom will offer free, basic internet packages to families in its service area who do not have an existing plan with any company.

Halstad Telephone CEO Mark Forseth said a letter was sent to area school districts within its region for references to families who may be in need while face-to-face classes are put on hold.

“This isn’t a marketing scheme for us,” Forseth said. “If there are places where kids can’t connect to the internet for whatever reason, we want to get them connected.”

School districts across the country are looking at providing online classes for students as nearly 40 states have temporarily closed all public and private schools in an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the pandemic of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum closed K-12 schools across North Dakota this week and was expected to make another announcement regarding education Thursday after the Banner went to press.

Some districts, including Northern Cass in rural Hunter, N.D., announced they would remain closed next week with online classes offered during the hiatus.

Universities across North Dakota already had closed their doors to in-person classes prior to the announcement, with several colleges going online only indefinitely. 

Forseth said his company took up a Federal Communications Commission’s Keep America Connected pledge during the height of the pandemic.

At this time, the company will not disconnect anyone for non-payment on internet or telephone services and will not charge penalties. 

Forseth said the company also will work with local college students who may be at home with no internet access for online learning.

“We’re going to work with people,” Forseth said. “If people are working from home and need more internet speed, we’ll also work with them on that.”

Halstad Telephone is looking at opening wireless internet hotspots next week at its Hillsboro office at 345 2nd Ave. W. and at its Minnesota locations in Halstad, Climax, Fisher and Shelly.

This service will allow people to drive up, send and receive emails or check the news from their cars.

“This is supposed to help facilitate the school, but if someone needs to connect, they can drive up to one of our buildings and communicate,” Forseth said. “We’re not going to let them sit there and stream Netflix.”

Halstad Telephone also is introducing new protocols for its technicians and for visitors to its office in Halstad.

The front doors will remain locked to the public and visitors will be asked a few questions via intercom before entering.

More information on the company’s COVID-19 response can be found at halstadtel.com/covid-19 or by calling 218-456-2125.

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