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The role of telcos in a pandemic: Keeping everyone afloat in these difficult times

There’s no doubt that technology has brought convenience to the daily lives of people and times like this where a global health emergency left the world with no choice but to reset their daily routines proves that more than a luxury, technology and innovation are indeed a necessity.

Among many other things, perhaps a vital realization this pandemic has brought common tech consumers, is the weight of the role of telecommunication companies, because of a very obvious thing — the internet is the backbone of technology. Without it, the world would have struggled similarly to what people encountered during the Spanish flu — when communication and information dissemination is delayed due to the lack of efficient channels and platforms.

On a larger scale, telcos are essential for vital industries to still continue their operations amid COVID-19. In the daily lives of consumers, telcos are present in more ways that one can imagine, especially now that the Internet of Things (IoT) and digitization have become the world’s reality.

As an obvious example, services provided by telcos are needed by most people to still communicate while practicing social distancing, to be productive, and to be able to cling to even the tiniest bit of their normal routines back when COVID-19 isn’t a problem.

This allows professionals to still check and report to work remotely and for students to still catch up on lessons through online learning.

Among the proposed activities for the “new norma” after COVID-19 is e-learning.

With the advent of social media, telcos saw new opportunities to promote their services. In the Philippines, the major telecom players — Globe and PLDT has provided free access to government websites like the Department of Health (www.doh.gov.ph) and the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council (www.ndrrmc.gov.ph) to help the government combat the spread of false information related to coronavirus.

Globe and PLDT have also embraced being a one-stop-shop for its subscribers — steering away from providing just a single service. Both companies offer postpaid plans which consumers can avail to buy a new smartphone or subscription services for video-on-demand platforms like Netflix, iflix, and the like.

Their prepaid plans, on the other hand, have an added data allocation which mobile users can utilize to access services of online delivery and e-commerce platforms like Lazada, Shopee, GrabFood, and the likes — another important facet of surviving a pandemic since most people turn to these applications to buy food, medicines, and other needed supplies.

Both Globe and PLDT also took the initiative to extend the payment due dates of their subscribers during the current crisis. While some may call this as nothing but another publicity stunt, it’s undeniable that it’s a great help especially now that most people are trying to save money as the end of the world’s battle against COVID-19 is still nowhere in sight.

While telcos in the Philippines have a lot to improve in terms of the efficiency and stability of their internet services, the things these companies do to somehow ease the burden of their subscribers in the midst of coronavirus is something other companies should take note of.

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