#News article

COVID-19: Taking action to secure long-term continuity of vital infrastructure

The impact of the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is rapidly increasing. As manager of vital digital infrastructure, Eurofiber has a social responsibility to limit the disruption to the economy and society as a result. To this end we apply protocols aimed at the safety and health of our employees and business relations, as well as the continuity of services to our clients in the private and public sectors. These protocols are laid down in a Continuity Plan.

Mitigation of service provision risks

Resolving disruptions

Our services (digital connectivity via fiber-optic and datacenter services) run virtually autonomous, provided there are no disruptions. Our business continuity plan therefore aims to focus all staff and resources on quickly resolving disruptions and informing our customers in the event of reduced availability of employees.

Contractors

Another risk we anticipate is a decrease in availability at our contractors. Here, too, we ensure that in the event of reduced availability of capacity, the focus is on resolving disruptions instead of constructing new connections. To this end, we have made agreements with contractors who normally only construct new connections for us to shift their deployment to the disruptions service, should this be necessary.

Access to locations

We have used our good contacts with central and local authorities to ensure that if it is safe and possible to do so, mechanics and engineers can gain access to the relevant sites in the event of outages and thus continue to carry out their work. In doing so, we will, of course, respect any instructions given by the authorities.

Inventories

With regard to inventories, we try to prevent shortages in close coordination with our suppliers by making additional arrangements and possibly purchasing additional inventories. Agreements have been made with suppliers of business-critical resources to secure stocks for Eurofiber. We do not currently foresee any major risks in this area in the short or medium term.

Network and datacenter capacity

There is no risk of reduced bandwidth availability. Both our backbone and customer connections have sufficient capacity to cope with large peaks in usage, for example due to an increase in the number of remote workers. The same applies to the capacity of our datacenters. High bandwidth connections and solid cloud solutions are our core business and we are proud to be able to make our contribution to limiting the economic and social damage caused by COVID-19. 

Contamination of employees and relations

All our employees work at home during the crisis, unless working on location is strictly necessary due to the nature of their work. To prevent employees with similar business-critical expertise from falling ill at the same time, we additionally have split all departments into an A and B team. Every other week one of these teams works from home. All employees have all the necessary facilities to work from home. These facilities, including a (VPN) connection and auxiliary equipment, meet the requirements for large numbers of employees working from home at the same time. This is now proving itself in practice.

Until further notice we do not receive any visitors at our office locations, nor do our employees attend meetings, congresses or other gatherings. All appointments are postponed or converted into online meetings. The same applies to appointments between Eurofiber employees working at locations in different countries.

Closure of locations

If an employee is infected at one of our office locations, we will close this location for a period of two to four days. During this closure, the location will be cleaned. The consequences of temporary closure are limited due to the aforementioned remote working facilities. If an employee is infected in one of our datacenters, we will not close the location as this will interrupt service provision. In that case, the location will be cleaned and the staff will be temporarily replaced.

Measures in the event of high absenteeism

Our Continuity Plan provides scenarios in which an increasing number of employees are absent at the same time. The overview below does not include the reduced possibilities for the construction of new projects due to lockdowns in France and Belgium or limited access to (customer) locations in the Netherlands. Both currently have a far greater impact on new construction than absenteeism among employees, which is no higher than normal.

Absenteeism rate Measures
Up to 10% No significant effect for our services.
Between 10 en 25% Possible (limited) delay in delivery of new projects, because Eurofiber focuses primarily on the continuity of the existing service provision. At this stage we do not expect any effects on the resolving of disruptions.
Between 25 en 50% Further delay in delivery of new projects, up to the possibility of complete shutdown of new projects. Possibly limited negative effects on the speed at which disruptions are resolved.
More than 50% Complete cessation of new projects, possible prioritization in resolving disruptions. Connections for hospitals, emergency services, telecommunications, drinking water and other vital functions are among the services to be repaired as a matter of the highest priority.

For the various lockdown scenarios, the crucial element is the potential limited access to customer locations or other crucial sites. This depends on the measures taken by the central and local governments in the Netherlands or Belgium.

Rate of  Lockdown Measures
No restricted access No significant effect on our services.
Access restricted by customers or local / central authorities for new projects Possible delay in delivery of new projects. Possibly limited negative effects on the speed at which disruptions are resolved.
Lockdown – only ‘vital’ personnel can be outside Complete cessation of new projects, possible prioritization in resolving disruptions depending on specific function in society. Connections for hospitals, emergency services, telecommunications, drinking water and other vital functions are among the services to be repaired as a matter of the highest priority.

Also read: How we serve society during the crisis