The start of a new decade should be a time for optimism. And that was exactly what many people felt: excitement at the new wave of technology, at the beginning of the 5G era, and at the growing consensus behind the importance of climate action. All still important, but all overshadowed, at least temporarily, by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the face of the biggest public health emergency for generations, governments, businesses, NGOs, communities and individuals are doing all they can to keep people safe and economies resilient. Many businesses have built entirely new ways of working from scratch, unique to each nation, in order to keep staff and customers safe. These individual stories of bravery and perseverance are uplifting on their own. But they are also part of a bigger story: the range of people, products and services that is required to keep telecommunications networks online. Particularly when those networks are under a huge strain.
So far, the networks are holding up well. ICT infrastructure, including networks, clouds and applications, have experienced unprecedented, accelerated increases in demand during the COVID-19 outbreak, driven by requirements for critical services, remote working, and home entertainment services. It is anticipated that capacity requirements will continue to increase at a similar rate for the foreseeable future.
The ITW Global Leaders’ Forum (GLF) recently launched the ‘Keeping the World Connected’ campaign by publishing an open letter calling for ICT infrastructure and communications services to be classified as “essential services” in all jurisdictions to ensure the industry can provide service continuity during the COVID-19 outbreak, and calling for collaboration among ICT infrastructure providers.
The GLF believes it is vital to assure that ICT infrastructure and the provision of ICT services are designated as an “essential service” in all jurisdictions to avoid any disruptions to global communications, ensure the safety of operational staff in the field, and to continue customer service to end users. In jurisdictions where this designation has been made, ICT providers have been best equipped to ensure service continuity.
Being designated as an “essential service” assures organisations are able to address this most challenging time. Many countries are under some kind of lockdown which can severely restrict movement of people. With so many people relying on ICT infrastructure currently, it is imperative that field operations teams are able to travel to maintain this infrastructure and ensure the resilience of networks, clouds and applications and enable customers and users to continue to access critical services.
The members of the GLF have committed to collaborate with each other, with governments, and with the broader ICT ecosystem in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. A number of new activities are being launched to support the business continuity of ICT infrastructure.
As members of the GLF, PCCW Global are committed to:
Sharing information on best practices among ICT infrastructure providers to assure global interoperability
As ICT infrastructure providers at the network, cloud and application layers go through the COVID-19 event, each can learn from each other in areas ranging from how they respond in an accelerated manner to customer demands, ensure continuity of operation and manage the remote working of their teams. GLF will be providing the forums and online collaboration tools through which ICT infrastructure providers can directly engage with each other to share experiences, ask questions and understand how their peers have managed the COVID-19 event.
Proactively support governments, the International Telecommunications Union [ITU], and international associations who seek to assure the on-going resiliency of international communications infrastructure as capacity demands increase
GLF members are committed to work with and support all governments and international bodies where it may better help assure the resiliency of international connectivity. GLF will proactively engage relevant organisations to ensure that there is a coordinated industry response providing support where required to keep everyone and everything connected.
Share operational resources in the field to facilitate service continuity
GLF members recognise the potential reality of limitations to their operations teams should the COVID-19 event directly impact their teams. Given the commitment to seek to assure service continuity, GLF members have committed where required to share operational resources in the event that an ICT infrastructure provider cannot feasibility undertake its own operational obligations. GLF will facilitate the communication between ICT infrastructure providers to ensure that the mechanisms are in place for the sharing of resources as required.
Coordinate and deploy additional capacity and applications requirements as jurisdictions may require
GLF members have experienced the impact of accelerated network demands due to the COVID-19 event and believe that taking a broader industry approach would allow for increased preparedness going forward. GLF members have committed to share information to allow for coordination in deployment of additional capacity to support the demands of all jurisdictions as required