Adapted from the article originally published on by Alex Holt, Global Head, Telecom & Media  

Consumer networks are now the backbone of business and life continuity

Over the last few weeks people all around the globe were thrust into a “new normal” of working or learning from their homes. Numerous “shelter in place” directives have sparked a 40 percent surge in data usage in many countries while mobile phone use has grown by 50 percent. Italy was the first country to enter a complete at-home lockdown, and as a result they have seen a 75 percent rise in residential data traffic.

Consumer internet networks, with their ability to deliver voice, video, and data in our connected world, are being asked to serve as the backbone for both consumers and businesses full-time.

Telecoms operators quickly stepped up to address the at-home data surge and their actions keep people, businesses and communities connected as isolation and social distancing instructions are being enforced.

Telecoms companies such as AT&T, Telstra and Verizon are suspending overage caps and fees for home usage as well as waiving late fees, some even promising not to cancel service for those impacted by the virus. Some are adding capacity and/or spectrum to help meet increased customer demand. Some telcos are also helping businesses and universities stand-up virtual offices or classrooms with conference call and video conferencing technology.

Media and education companies are also doing their part.

  • Media enterprises are focused on delivering vital information, working with governments to control misinformation, and adjusting their business models, like Universal Pictures and Disney+ have done, to make content more accessible and in some cases available sooner

  • Media outlets from The Atlantic to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg News have each made coronavirus coverage available to non-subscribers

  • Netflix has optimized their crowd-watching platform, Netflix Party, to add more servers to deal with the influx of use and allow URLs from outside the United States. Locally, StarHub is giving free preview of a selection of 10 news, kids and entertainment channels for its customers

  • Many online educational companies as well as video-conferencing companies are offering free or discounted services for students to keep learning at home

All of these efforts are critical to maintaining a sense of connection and community that is so important to people’s mental health and well-being at this time.

Telecoms companies are working hard to ensure connectivity functions properly, even though consumer and enterprise networks are designed to be used differently. Many of us are now depending on consumer connections to have the same functional capabilities as enterprise grade communications at a significantly lower cost.

Now more than ever, the world is relying on telecoms companies to enable their daily lives in a “new normal” during this unprecedented crisis. To bring this to life, Verizon just announced that they are increasing capital guidance by USD$500M to accelerate their ‘transition to 5G and help support the economy during this period of disruption.’

What is clear to me, is that when the world came calling, the telcos around the world answered.  They have done an astonishing job of facilitating demand at levels never imagined and are one of the key groups ensuring that the world can keep on moving.  To all the engineering teams around the world working day and night to keep us all connected - thank you!

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