Despite its toxic nature, the coronavirus pandemic seems to have shifted attention of people to the adoption of connectivity tools in Nigeria, and other parts of the globe. The impact of the pandemic on communication and connectivity has been felt within the ecosystem surrounding the Internet and communications technology, increasing demand and highlighting the need to leverage tools and innovative strategies to survive and thrive.
The Connectivity Resilience Amidst COVID-19 document, a telecommunications thought leadership perspective, authored by Deloitte, revealed that as a ripple effect of the pandemic, significant increases in data consumption have been observed globally, as entire populations shift to working and being educated from home due to social distancing. From Nigeria to U.K, USA to Germany, South Korea to UAE, the report noted that attention has shifted online with both businesses and education conducted virtually, with many people exploring the powers of the Internet.
Making reference to CNBC Markets report, Deloitte informed that U.K. Internet service providers have seen double-digit increases in traffic amidst the coronavirus lockdown with global streaming services such as Netflix and Disney+ cutting bandwidth usage to prevent network congestion. MTN Nigeria also confirmed the deep pressure on the network as a result of the sit-at-home policy. In an interview with The Guardian, the Chairman, MTN Nigeria, Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, said the pressure on the network has increased substantially as more and more people use data and voice services while at home.
Ndukwe noted that while the firm operates a redundancy regime that allows it to ensure service during spikes in traffic, “none of our networks are built to handle the type of surge that subsists over a long period of time. We can’t give you a specific percentage but demand has definitely increased.” Indeed, the Deloitte report noted that the educational sector has accelerated use of distance learning by necessity and home networks not designed for use cases such as simultaneous video conference calls are being tested, having to support heavy use for commerce, education and entertainment.
Also the use of Zoom and Skype have seen an upsurge, as most people and businesses communicate virtually through the apps. The report noted that with the elimination of public gatherings and most sports leagues suspended, online entertainment options have seen rapid increase in demand. It stressed that in addition, the streaming of religious services and conferences has increased both demand and frequency of live streaming.
COVID-19, according to Deloitte has accelerated the adoption of connectivity tools and forced networks to adjust to a new set of individual and enterprise user requirements. Going forward, Deloitte in the report noted that organisations need to adopt resiliency strategies across the domains of people, processes and technology and continuously update their threat response strategies in an evolving, globally-connected operating environment.
According to it, the first step should be a review of disaster recovery and business resilience plans, and then a comprehensive playbook developed on how people, processes and technology will operate in the event of single or multiple crises. It noted that once the emergency has been contained and response delivered, a plan to leverage the new trends and shift in industry landscape is the next crucial step for all leading organisations to adapt to the future.
The report posited that that expanded capacity may be needed to cope with the increased need for communication and digital tools, and further strategies to ensure the quality of service with new demand patterns observed. Deloitte said autonomous processes must be emphasised with the increased use of cognitive technologies such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to reduce manual tasks such as configuration of transmission equipment or analysis and adjustment of customer capacity. It added that remote monitoring and configurations systems should be leveraged requiring less human intervention.
Deloitte in the report interviewed the Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, Funke Opeke, who attested to the fact that there has been increase in the demand for connectivity services in the past few weeks. Opeke said for a lot of businesses, customers need to initiate transactions online while, their staff need to access critical servers to work remotely, and by so doing increasing connectivity requirements. On the possible impact of COVID-19 on connectivity infrastructure, she said the firm is incredibly well prepared with its business continuity plans.
“We have redundant equipment and diverse network routes at the core of our network and data centre infrastructure. We also monitor our sites pro-actively and have out-of-band management access to our devices so staff can access them remotely from home to address any issues. We factor this in when we build our infrastructure, so there are no plans to alter what we already have in place now as it is serving us well,” she stated.