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Written by Doug Weber
on 09 Apr 2020

As the COVID-19 impact is felt across the world, ensuring capacity and service quality and reliability for essential services on the front lines is a critical responsibility for network service providers.


The coronavirus pandemic has thrown up an unprecedented crisis for the nations and businesses worldwide. Select industries are at the front of ensuring that companies continue to operate, and the global economy is not severely impacted—telecommunications is one sector that needs to, and must, soldier on. Traditionally, while network service providers are familiar with the concept of being available 24/7 to service disruptions, the need for networks to be always on and operate at higher-than-normal efficiency levels is significantly accentuated in the current scenario.

Today, more than ever, businesses and consumers have very high expectations that their networks will provide the bandwidth, reliability, stability, and speed they need to continue operations. This, when entire countries are going into lockdowns and an increasing number of people are working from home.

The most critical ask of network service providers during this COVID-19 crisis is to continue providing essential infrastructure, tools, and support for first responder networks, hospitals, government agencies, global supply chains, and the news media. These organizations are categorized as “essential services” and are working around the clock to prepare and respond to the dynamic environment today. Despite challenges such as protecting their employees from the virus, dealing with critical equipment and supply shortages, and adapting to inadequate healthcare capacity, network services providers worldwide are working non-stop to ensure the one thing people don’t have to worry about is their network.

Swift actions are critical to ensure service continuity for the coronavirus essential workforce, keeping the lines of communication open among medical experts and government agencies, doctors and patients, businesses, and the public. The performance and security of the network must be maintained, even as providers work to increase capacity.

Service providers use technology and digital tools in their network operations centers to remotely monitor usage across the network and move quickly to add capacity, re-route communications paths, and make the adjustments necessary in heavy transmission sectors to optimize capacity and utilization. While data center and field technicians are trained to respond, troubleshoot, and repair issues impacting service quickly, they are now adapting to new procedures that help technicians work safely with an added protective measure to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus while on the job.

“Our team at MetroNet is prepared to support customers and provide resources in this fast-changing environment. We rapidly rolled out significant ways for existing and new customers to have access to the increased speed and reliability they need with healthcare facility customers receiving special attention for increased capacity and connecting additional sites.  In addition, we’ve modified our service and new installation visit procedures to provide additional layers of safety for both our customers and our technicians.”

- Keith Leonhardt, Vice President of Communications and Customer Experience, MetroNet

 

How are network service providers stepping up?

  • Prioritizing first responder networks to maintain continuity of service with dedicated bandwidth for communications
  • Deploying assets such as mobile cell site and devices to quarantine zones, airports, emergency operations centers, and mobile coronavirus testing locations
  • Expanding access to telehealth tools for healthcare workers such as video consultations for doctors and patients
  • Setting up Wi-Fi hotspots and charging stations to improve performance and ensure essential medical, government, and non-profit agencies can communicate easily
  • Working with schools, many that have gone online, with digital resources for teachers and students such as the Verizon Innovative Learning Connection Website

As network service providers plan and adapt to the changing environment, the pandemic is driving organizations of all types to ensure their business continuity plans are in place. This includes prioritizing critical infrastructure, supporting layers of network redundancy, ensuring security—both at the physical data center and over the network, implementing technology to collect data for remote equipment monitoring, and enabling their workers and suppliers with the tools and devices necessary to keep business running.

“Over the last week, we have seen traffic on the Sonic network increase by 25%. This is a massive jump in a short period, but to this point, the capacity of the network is holding up very well, and members should not be experiencing any network-related slowdowns. Our network engineering team is constantly engaged in monitoring usage trends and planning the deployment of upgrades. This rapid increase in usage has caused us to apply immediate upgrades that would have normally been deployed in six to twelve months.”

- Dane Jasper, CEO & Co-Founder, Sonic

Businesses can learn from this time of stress and uncertainty to draw up their roadmaps for future projects around automation, process innovation, and digital transformation to ensure they can confidently respond to events large and small in the future.

The technological innovations and capacity expansions in our global networks over the last decade have prepared communication networks and service providers to perform, adapt, and lead us in a pandemic. The technology, expertise, infrastructure, and support that we often take for granted in our daily communications have given us the real-time, virtual connections we all need during this time of isolation. Achieving the bandwidth, performance, security, and reliability required in this crisis would have been an exponentially more significant challenge even ten years ago.

Cyient is proud to work with our communications partners and thank them for leading the way in keeping us connected.

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