Vodafone has announced a five-point plan to maintain network service and assist governments across Europe to tackle the coronavirus outbreak.
With the coronavirus outbreak now being labelled a once-in-a-century type event, the telco industry is more important then ever. While telcos are now the foundation of almost every element of society nowadays, with more people self-isolating or working from home, performance and co-operation will need to be on-point to keep societies and economies running smoothly.
“Vodafone can play a critical role in supporting society during this unprecedented time and that is why we are announcing our five-point plan,” said Vodafone Group CEO Nick Read. “A plan that ensures better outcomes for all citizens by working more closely with governments.
“Through our networks, and our dedicated team, we will strive to ensure that people stay connected to their family and friends, businesses can continue to run using remote working, our health services get all the support we can deliver and students are able to continue their education virtually.”
Aside from increasing capacity, the telco has also pointed out the industry needs more help from governments throughout the bloc. For example, access to sites needs to be simplified to allow upgrades to take place, while the team has also asked rules making ‘zero rating’ products illegal to be lifted temporarily.
The five elements of the plan are as follows:
- Maintaining the quality of service of networks:
With internet traffic over networks in impacted areas already up 50%, the threat of network congestion is becoming much more apparent. Capacity is being increased across the networks to ensure new usage patterns do not impact performance, while mission critical communications will be prioritised
- Providing network capacity and services for critical government functions:
Hospitals are being offered additional network capacity and services, emergency calls are being prioritised, and accessing government-supported healthcare websites will not impact data allowances. Free access to governments’ educational resources will also be offered
- Improving dissemination of information to the public:
Government agencies have been offered the opportunity to disseminate critical information via text alerts, and where possible, targeted text messaging will be introduced
- Facilitating working from home and helping the small and micro businesses within Vodafone’s Supply Chain:
Besides continuing to maintain network quality, education campaigns have been launched to ensure enterprise customers know about all the tools available to work from home. To aid its own supply chain, Vodafone has said European suppliers will be paid in 15 days, instead of the customary 30 to 60 days
- Improving governments’ insights into people’s movements in affected areas:
Wherever technically possible, and legally permissible, Vodafone will be willing to assist governments in developing insights based on large anonymised data sets. This could be a very important tool for governments in understanding the challenge which is being faced
What is worth noting is that all the telcos are pitching in to offer support to governments and local authorities during this challenging time. The value of the telecommunications industry, not only for communications but also insight, should not be underappreciated. However, Vodafone does raise an interesting point; certain rules and regulations might have to be relaxed to ensure effective action against the outbreak.