What is coming the next few weeks is one of the greatest challenges for telecommunications companies worldwide.
To the extent that companies send their employees to work at home and that colleges and universities opt for virtual teaching models to create that “social isolation” required to flatten the COVID-19 infection curve, the burden on the networks of internet -fixed and mobile- will increase exponentially.
We have already seen how companies such as Cisco and Microsoft have made many of the functionalities of their video conferencing and collaboration platforms available to people, schools and companies for free for the next 90 days so that they can connect remotely. .
But those services will be of little use if people cannot connect to the internet, either because the networks collapse or because people are running out of data. The first one does not concern me so much. I think Claro, Movistar, ETB, Tigo and the others have enough installed capacity to guarantee a decent service.
But the second one has me worried. And it is that in a country where 2/3 of the Internet accesses are mobile , the possibility of people running out of data is high.
In the United States, several of the Internet providers have announced that they will offer unlimited data to their customers and will expand the amount of usable data under the hotspot model. Others have confirmed that they will not apply additional charges for non-payment and will not suspend service to residential or small business customers who cannot pay their bills due to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
My call to internet operators is to significantly expand the amount of data that people can use for the next 90 days at no cost.
Following that example, I dare to launch a proposal for mobile internet operators in Colombia, and especially for Claro, Movistar, ETB, Tigo and the other fixed and mobile internet operators: expand – significantly – the amount of data that people can use it for the next 90 days at no cost.
Some will say that I am crazy, that it is impossible economically speaking, but I am not proposing something that they do not do as a hook to attract new clients:
- Many already offer double the contracted internet (in speed for fixed internet and in amount of data for mobile internet) during the first months of the services.
- Many already offer zero-rated services (those that, even though their mobile internet plan runs out, continue to work “unlimitedly”) for certain applications.
- Many already offer free months on corporate contracts.
We all have to do our bit to promote and facilitate the process of social isolation that allows us to “flatten the curve” and control the advance of the COVID-19 epidemic. The fact that companies like Cine Colombia have closed their cinemas is a demonstration of the corporate responsibility of a company that has people in its DNA. I don’t think it’s too much to ask internet operators for this “sacrifice”. More when they have been the great beneficiaries of this information revolution.