Communications must be deemed an 'essential service'
“The demand for telecommunications services during the COVID-19 pandemic, for both business continuity and personal reasons, has never been greater.” This is according to Mike Palmer, Chief Marketing Officer, Spearline, who recently co-authored a whitepaper called “How a Pandemic can Impact Global Telecoms Infrastructure.”
We sat down for an interview to discuss some of the research that went into the whitepaper and the key takeaways of the report. Spearline monitors critical business telecommunications services on a global level, which is why Palmer said the organization is uniquely positioned to present data that highlights how the pandemic made business communications companies faster at making adjustments. He says this is why it would also suit every company, organization, and government entity to have a disaster recovery plan, telling me:
“Disaster recovery planning has to remain a central part of IT management. Everything from natural disasters, to system failures, and other major events like pandemics can impact communications and increase the demand felt on communications networks”
Palmer says if this is not the case, outages might occur more often, and poor quality service could become the norm for businesses and individuals who rely on the vital nature of communications infrastructure. Palmer said that the whitepaper highlights the shift from working in-office to working at home. The number of those now working from home due to the pandemic will have greatly increased by the end of the pandemic, but for now, that number remains unclear. Today most, if not all, social interactions happen over mobile networks and the Internet.
“Many social situations take place over network services, prompting some countries to recognize telecommunications services as an essential service,” said Palmer
Let’s look at China, the Chinese telecommunications market is the largest in the world when you consider the number of users. “The country exploited technology to support remote work, online education, healthcare services, and more,” Palmer said. He also said that services in the country are reliable and robust, adding: “Voice service call quality data from late 2019 show a well-controlled network that delivers a high quality of service.”
Data from 2020, however, paints another picture. In both March and April, China experienced what the whitepaper deems ‘degraded performance.’ This was as China enforced strict measures to combat the virus. Network providers adjusted to the increasing customer demand, prompting the Chinese government to label telecommunications an essential service. If organizations and governments want to be successful during a pandemic, they must give telecommunications essential-service status, according to Palmer.
Palmer reports that the telecommunications sector performed ‘strongly’ throughout the pandemic and benefited from the surge in voice and data traffic. Now that the industry is recognized as essential, workers in the field can continue to carry out maintenance work across the globe to help service providers extend a strong offering to customers.
Taking a look at Europe, Italy’s telecommunications structure performed ‘very well’ during the pandemic. Spearline’s research highlights that the country’s telecommunications and data services are both well-developed and that the country has one of the highest mobile penetration rates in Europe. It is even further developing its broadband sector and is on the leading edge of 5G development.