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Telcos step up for good of society

March 18, 2020 - Martin Morgan

Covid-19 is changing how we live. Society is now predominantly on-line and the telecoms operators are stepping up to the mark to ensure that this new society has the foundation on which to communicate.

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Covid-19 is changing how society operates. Very quickly we’re moving to an on-line society. Entertainment, health, working, education and social interaction – the vast majority is now on-line.

The telecoms operators are centre stage in providing the networks that will keep our on-line society working.

Over the last week many telecoms companies have stepped up to the mark to ensure that we all can remain on-line.

In the US, the FCC produced a ‘Keep America Connected’ pledge. This asks operators not to terminate service for residential and small business customers. It also asks not to charge overage fees and provide open access to public wi-fi hotspots. Many operators have signed up to this pledge. AT&T announced that there would be no data caps for mobile and fixed home broadband. They are cutting costs to make sure people stay connected. As an example, implementing a 50% rate cut on AT&T World Connect Advantage plans. They’re also proving free 90-day use of Cisco Webex Meetings for businesses and schools. Last week, my colleague, Jonathan Plant wrote in the Openet blog about the need for operators to prioritise traffic. This is now happening. Operators are prioritising connectivity to health care providers and hospitals.

Elsewhere in North America, Canadian operators are also stepping up. Some have announced they won’t be charging customers for long distance calls within Canada. As well as no data caps, we're also seeing waiving some roaming charges. This is for Canadians stuck in China and Italy and other areas hard hit by Covid-19. In addition, some customers will suffer financial hardship due to Covid-19. They may struggle to pay their home broadband bills. In response some operators have said they won’t cut off service for the next 90 days.

As well as removing financial barriers to keep society on-line and connected, there is the question of how to deal with boredom. Home working, school closures and ‘no-where to go’ will all add to household stress. In Spain, Telefónica is giving customers extra content to keep them entertained. One of the areas they’re providing extra content is kid’s TV. For parents juggling home working and managing on-line schooling this will be a bonus. Telefónica is also adding an extra 30GB/ month free of charge for the next two months. This is for their quadplay Fusion and Movistar mobile plans.

In the UK Vodafone have announced a five-point plan to ensure networks service is maintained and to provide support to governments. Their five-points are:

  • Maintaining the quality of service of networks
  • Providing network capacity and services for critical government functions
  • Improving dissemination of information to the public
  • Facilitating working from home and helping the small and micro businesses within Vodafone’s Supply Chain
  • Improving governments’ insights into people’s movements in affected areas

Given that traffic has reported to spike by up to 50%, keeping the networks maintained and managing congestion will be key.

The above is just a small example of the steps that telecoms operators are taking to keep society connected and on-line in this current crisis.  There are many more initiatives being taken by many more operators - all playing vital roles to provide the networks that our on-line society runs on.

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