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How can operators help during the covid-19 outbreak?

March 12, 2020 - Jonathan Plant

As governments, businesses and schools are trying to deal with covid-19, how can operators leverage their technology and make an impact on productivity or access to vital online services?

Covid-19 is an unprecedented crisis that the world has had to deal with. Governments, companies and people the world over have had to adapt and react to the uncertainty of what it brings. This virus has already a significant impact on the telecoms industry with the rightful cancellation of MWC. When word got out that MWC was going to be cancelled, we didn’t realise at the time how much this virus was going to take over every facet of everyone’s lives.

For operators there are many challenges with covid-19. These include the challenge faced by the disruption of supply chains and also the potential strain on networks. As schools/businesses are being shut for good reason to allow for self-isolation we’re seeing an accelerated move to digital services and channels. This will put a strain on networks. Kids will be trying to play games or stream Netflix while their parents, having been advised to work from home, are trying to access a virtual meeting. But it’s not just digital entertainment services and home working that will impact networks. The move to digital channels will have an impact – e.g. doctors are advising people to do consultations over video. Now imagine the strain in towns or villages that have large numbers of people trying to all access a myriad of content and digital services all at the same time. It could prove a challenge to deal with.

So what measures do operators put in place to deal with this? Firstly, they need to allow their customers to have prioritisation of capacity or devices. You can’t have a customer struggling to do their work, or access an on-line medical service whilst their kids are watching Paw Patrol for the 100th time. Also, how can organisations do more to ensure that their staff have better access to high speed broadband at home? A lot of organisations do deals with operators for their staff to have access to mobile services, so why not extend this to the home?

Then from a B2B point of view, with travel to areas being restricted, how can operators help businesses with their digital teleconferencing facilities within their offices? If you can’t have a face to face meeting with a customer, then the next best thing is a high definition feed with no lag or disruption. You also have schools/colleges being closed. How can operators work with schools and parents so that teachers/lectures can continue to teach remotely? Operators will need to apply different policies based on traffic will allow prioritisation of different types of traffic from different sources.

For example, first responders and the medical community need to have the required network access and bandwidth to keep communication channels as crisp as possible during these types of events.

Disruption with covid-19 is inevitable, how operators empower their customers, communities and governments to deal with it will play an important part in ensuring highest priority services get delivered.

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