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CenturyLink Provides Connection for Mercy’s Sake

With a U.S. Naval hospital ship heading their way, two West Coast-based CenturyLink field technicians, Colin Wang and Brian King, had only 48 hours to install a 1 Gigabyte Ethernet circuit, a process that normally takes a month to complete.  So, to make it work, they had to be creative and throw a few standard practices out the window.

Such as the fiber cable itself.

“It's a bit unusual, but it does the job,” said King, chuckling a little bit as he reflected upon the 1,000 feet of fiber line connecting the USNS Mercy to a nearby network terminal, courtesy of an open window.

The two-day scramble began when the U.S. Navy decided to deploy the hospital ship to Los Angeles to provide critical medical services to patients who have not contracted the COVID-19 virus.  The Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) needed a technology company that could provide high-capacity network services safely, securely, and quickly.  CenturyLink stepped up and waived all installation fees and donated 12 months of free service.

All Hands on Deck

“We’re focused on solving complex customer problems and combining that know-how with our commitment to always do the right thing,” said Ed Morche, CenturyLink’s President of Enterprise and Government Markets.  “We choose to serve those who serve.”

CenturyLink had to coordinate with military personnel, the port authority, and another commercial provider to complete the connection.  Separate teams needed to finalize customer specifications, secure the equipment, and design the circuit.  With so many ‘hands on deck,’ Service Delivery Manager Steve Wenrich notes that the project came together quickly because of the flexibility of everyone involved.

“Between all the handoffs taking place, we probably changed the order at least five times,” he says. “But if you work in this business, you have to be able to think fast and work on the fly.”

Fulfilling the Mission

CenturyLink anticipates more opportunities to help communities handle the growing need for hospital beds with the spread of the COVID virus.  As local municipalities turn to various facilities and stadiums (such as the CenturyLink Field event center in Seattle) to handle the overflow, CenturyLink will be there to donate connectivity to support these temporary field hospitals where the company already has qualified facilities.

Back in Los Angeles, Wang saw the Mercy installation as an opportunity to “serve his country,” and King shared in his pride.

“Generally, an install is an install,” he said.  “But we knew this one was different.  People were counting on us, and it felt good to do something for the community.”

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