Can the Internet Keep Running in the Coronavirus Crisis?

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Emerging trends, hot-topics, and technologies describe and shape each decade. Without any doubt, the past decade was formed by the unstoppable rise of social networks, learning platforms, the gaming industry, and media-services providers. In that sense, the decade behind will not be remembered as a revolutionary one for telecommunications. Most of the users were able to harvest the best of the Internet by using the actual speeds, and it seemed like we don’t need better connections, we are satisfied with the existing one, and we only want more services and contents.

And then, at the very beginning of the new decade, the world stopped. Since January 2020, the world fights against mysterious and deadly Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, which is spreading around the world right now. The purpose of the Internet is changed, from the platform for fun and multimedia content sharing to vital infrastructure to keeping the economy running, social communication, and psychological health. Nowadays, rather than for gaming, we desperately need Internet communications to stay in contact with our families and friends and maintain social relations healthy. Isolations and quarantines are not the way how we used to live, and many of us don’t have any experience in how to behave.

 

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The Internet is a critical infrastructure that keeps our economy and society vital and healthy.

 

What Challenges Do Operators Have in the Period of Crisis?

The telecoms are recognizing that the whole world and their customers are more reliant on their services. Most businesses switched to remote work and home office regime, and their activities rely on Internet communications, from conventional e-mails to advanced collaborations tools and video calls.

At the same time, the rest of the people are in quarantine – using the Internet for entertainment, maintaining social connections, and work. The enormous and unexpected pressure on the communications infrastructure brings the importance of the telecom sector at first sight again. One thing will stay for sure, even after this situation is done. In essence, nobody will underestimate the importance of reliable and resistant communications infrastructure, and massive infrastructure projects are going to start immediately after the Coronavirus would be defeated.

Even if we don’t accept the Digital Transformation and remote work as a standard immediately, all the largest companies in the world will create robust platforms to be ready for any future situation similar to this one. The costs for these projects are multiple times less than the losses which they face because of slowing down and ultimately stopping their operations.

After the WW2, the world is going to face substantial economic difficulties to turn on many projects and operations and to rebuild business relations. Many operators in Australia, Russia, France, Belgium, and many other countries are announcing a significant increase of data caps, and some of them removed the limits at all, leaving the free unlimited Internet for at least fixed users.

The role of telecom operators becomes critical. They have a huge responsibility to keep their networks running that our lives and businesses keep running too. Even it means to stay boring, we can service without social networks, influencers, movies, but without Internet access out world, economy, and lifestyle will never survive, and we will never recover after this state.

The US national regulator for electronic communications – Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced and pledged for action “Keep Americans Connected,” calling all operators to open their WiFi hotspots and maintain their services. Many worlds-leading telecoms announced their activities to preserve and protect critical communications giving priorities to specific services, especially hospitals and emergency calls and services for public information, including periodical SMS text alerts. The national regulator for electronic communications in Bosnia and Herzegovina – the Communications Regulatory Agency (CRA BH / RAK BiH ) also used the situation of emergency state to launch specific calls and pledged all electronic media focusing all TV station on adding the sign language and subtitles for all information programs and contents as well as many other services for Accessibility taking care about the most vulnerable groups in the society.

What is the Current State?

The Internet infrastructure is showing the stress effects of the significant traffic increase in both data and voice. The voice traffic makes the most of congestions everywhere and hitting the extreme levels in some countries. In the UK, the voice traffic is increased by 30%, in Belgium by  50%,  and Switzerland by 300%, tripling of usual voice traffic. The total data traffic is grown in Italy for 70%, e.g., Spain already had problems due to increasing the data traffic, and there is the official plea to Spanish customers to use their services responsible during the quarantine. A similar situation hits many other countries. Still, their regulators and telecoms didn’t publish the official data on the current state of the network and traffic.

We Are Already in the Digital Transformation

As the author of this article, during the writing of this text, I asked myself a straightforward question:

Are we already in the Digital Transformation or not?

The answer was simple: yes, we are. We are so dependent on the Internet and their digital services and contents that we can be sure how we will be affected in the case that the Internet goes down. The minimum function of the global economy depends right now on remote work and the Internet.

Our social life depends on the Internet, even maybe our psychological health – we become very connected, and we are not used to be alone in our homes for days and weeks. We are dependent on the Internet even more that we are ready to confess. The world is not digitalized completely, and all of our operations are not digital and paperless right now. Still, for the first time, all skeptics and digital tech haters must be silent.

The technology saves our world – helping the researchers to look for a vaccine against Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and exchange results and findings globally between each other, sharing instructions and information is more comfortable, and helping us to use our home hours, days, and maybe weeks and months in a productive way.

The technology is a tool in our hands. We choose how to use it. Technology can’t be wrong; humans can. We can use in a good or bad way any natural or tech gifts and knowledge. It depends on us.

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