How to strengthen the Telecom sector to support the remote workforce

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The telecom industry reaches into every corner of our economies, societies, and private lives, and it is one of the greatest drivers of economic growth and human equality the world has ever seen.” This quote from Börje Ekholm, CEO of Ericsson Group, aptly summarizes the grave need & criticality of a well-functioning telecommunications industry. When employees across the world are working remotely, educational institutions are conducting classes online, and the global population is practicing social distancing amidst strict lockdowns, resilient network plays a pivotal role in ensuring that everything flows smoothly. The surging demand for networking infrastructure & connectivity could put a heavy strain on the system. As the number of voice calls & network usage increase exponentially, network reliability & resilience become the key focus of the telcos & Communications Services Providers (CSPs). 

The ability of telecom companies to serve unfailingly may have a strong impact on how their consumers perceive their network services after everything ‘normalizes’, which is why it is essential for the CSPs to expand their capabilities & address the immediate demand with maximum efficacy. Although it is true that the COVID-19 crisis has resulted in some major shifts in the priorities for each sector, it definitely has positioned the communications industry as critical as the utilities. As Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC Commissioner puts it, “If it wasn’t clear before this crisis, it is crystal clear now that broadband is a necessity for every aspect of modern civic and commercial life.” 

As a consequence of the COVID-19 lockdowns, there has been a 20 to 100% spike reported in the network traffic, out of which the largest share of the traffic is being consumed by the fixed residential networks such as Wi-Fi. The demand for mobile network (2G, 3G, & 4G) is also increasing with up to 70% rise in the number of voice calls. The biggest impact of the lockdowns is being observed on the video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, which reported a 535% increase in its daily traffic. Similarly, the traffic volume on Cisco WebEx has risen by 24 times than its normal range. 

There is no certainty about the timeline when the crisis will settle down & everything can go back to normal. However, to deal with the uncertainties that are out of all our hands, it is better to gain control of things that are indeed in our hands. Telecom companies should assume full control of managing their network’s performance and continuous changes in the traffic volumes. 

What potential issues will the telecom sector face in its fight against COVID-19? 

The relevance and importance of telecom has never been clearer. When everything is shut down, CSPs are keeping the world up and running by connecting families, friends, & businesses. Although the sector is putting up a strong fight against the global crisis, it may have to face a slew of challenges such as: 

  1. Increased security and infrastructure risks for both customers as well as telecom companies due to the remote workforce 
  2. Delayed manufacturing & delivery of network equipment 
  3. Degraded service quality as a result of the excessive demand 
  4. Postponement of next-gen network technology services such as 5G & fiber network builds 

The way telecom companies will respond to the crisis and address these challenges will determine whether their growth will boost or dive after the situation gets under control. 

PwC suggests the following steps for the telecom service providers to resolve these challenges: 

  1. A proactive, data-driven crisis response to shape stakeholder attitudes far into the future 
  2. Review of items such as insurance coverage, systems capabilities for remote workers, and cyber readiness. 
  3. Continued delivery of critical national infrastructure and fulfillment of customer priorities around maintenance and confidence. 
  4. Prioritization of cyber safe remote technology capabilities to transition workers to remote work while maintaining productivity.  
  5. Monitoring remote call center effectiveness via a command center and adjusting the support model as necessary. 

How should telcos prepare them for the ‘new normal’

Although the COVID-19 outbreak might have delayed the 5G rollout, it is certainly accelerating the digital transformation of the telecom industry. As consumers, businesses, & people in general adjust and possibly habituate to the remote style of working, the telecom services providers will center their focus on developing AI capabilities to offer an omnichannel digital experience. Moreover, the data gathered from the digital interactions will help them prepare better to deal with such situations in the future.  

5G & edge computing can together empower global organizations with real-time decision-making abilities without latency. As more and more companies shift to hybrid cloud IT & edge computing, the network providers must cater to the demands for automated network architectures and operations, with AI driving the operational sustainability and efficiency. Given the recent security issues with Zoom, the videoconferencing platform, cyber security should become a top priority for the CSPs and network operators to instill greater levels of trust among the end users. 

One of the key steps that the industry should take next is to assume control of their networks by performing end-to-end performance & reliability testing. In this situation, it is essential to monitor any sort of traffic changes and perform network optimization whenever required. Telecom network testing will enable the CSPs to evaluate the performance of their networks under high load situations & benchmark the maximum capacity of the users they can tolerate without impacting the performance. This data would help them take proactive measures to maintain network’s performance when the load approaches the threshold. To cope with the rising traffic demand, the telcos should consider expanding their network strength & spectrum. 

To conclude

Customer satisfaction and quality service are the key to a bright future for the telecommunication services providers. If they meet the increasing network demands and handle the surging traffic volumes effectively, they can expect a sharp boost in their growth in the post-COVID world. 

Continuous software testing, automated scripts, & automated validation of end-to-end business flow are critical for providing a seamless broadband connectivity across multiple digital devices and scaling up to meet the continuous demands of the customers. Cigniti’s domain competency group (DCG) comprises 100+ SMEs experienced in Open Stack, SDN, NFV, Telecom Protocol Testing, Functional & Non-Functional Testing, Test Automation, & E2E Testing for Operations Support System (OSS) & Business Support System (BSS). The DCG also lets you access proven testing processes, standardized templates, & best practices aligned to telecom regulations, along with a comprehensive set of Integrated Test Cases across the major COTS apps used in the telecom industry. To gain a detailed understanding of what we can do for you, please schedule a discussion.