COVID-19 impact on global networks

Covid-19 is already having a significant impact on services and placing a greater demand on networks, as more people work from home, provide home schooling or stream online entertainment. UK telecoms regulator, Ofcom, has launched ‘Stay Connected’, a nationwide campaign advising the public on ways reduce pressure on networks during the coronavirus lockdown – see https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/advice-for-consumers/stay-connected

“Telecoms providers are working to ensure resilience across landline, broadband and mobile services as the demands on networks increase, as well as prioritising access to safety-of-life communications systems. Some telecoms providers have also taken specific steps to support their customers, such as providing unlimited calls or increased data allowances,” it commented.

WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram have reported significant increases in usage. Services such as YouTube, Amazon and Netflix have lowered the quality of their video streaming services in Europe, including the UK, to ease pressures on European network capacity. However, the main impact on the telecoms industry is expected to be from staff shortages, impacting customer service and engineering visits.

Both the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have approved funding and financing packages to assist companies and countries in their efforts to prevent, detect and respond to the rapid spread of COVID-19. The European Commission is coordinating a common European response to the outbreak of COVID-19. It is also proposing the set-up of a €100 billion solidarity instrument, called SURE, to help workers keep their incomes and help businesses stay afloat.

Countries are now offering their own support packages to businesses and employees. In the UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has released a host of measures to cover businesses and employees during this period of uncertainty – see https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus

“The current situation has confirmed the vital role of our industries, and we are conscious that we need to be ready to support our sectors in being ready for the future as the country comes out of the crisis. Investment in fibre and 5G connections will remain of critical importance,” concluded OFCOM.

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