When the lockdown was implemented in many cities across the country, reports around the spike in demand for mobile services with the increase in virtual meetings, video conferences, online shopping as well as religious activities made news rounds.
This increased surge in network traffic during the pandemic, particularly for data has seen many service providers struggle to cater to this sudden increase in numbers, with sometimes subpar cellular network connectivity.
Understanding that now, more than ever, individuals need to have a reliable cellular connection, but to what extent has this new reality affected the service providers?
In an interview with Mohammed Rufai, Chief Technical Officer, MTN Nigeria, he exposed some of the challenges telcos are facing across the country.
With that in mind, here are three reasons you should be more patient with your network service providers:
1. The COVID-19 pandemic affects everyone
In many ways that the pandemic has affected us personally, it has also affected these businesses. They were bound by the same travel and movement restrictions and social distancing measures.
In the interview, Rufai said, “Fortunately, we have multiple layers of redundancy built into our networks and some headroom. It is however, a concern is not knowing the extent or duration of the restrictions we currently face. If the situation persists, it might lead to resource constraints because it might affect our ability to import equipment as and when due.”
2. Telcos have more responsibilities at this time
Amidst the pandemic, one of the challenges the telcos face is catering to customers’ needs while supporting the government financially and technologically with their expertise.
Buttressing this point, Rufai said, “With the Y’ello Hope Initiative, we have been able provide communication equipment for the NCDC to aid contact tracing, partnered with other private sector organizations in the Coalition Against COVID-19 (CaCOVID), and provide free SMS to customers monthly, which to date has been in excess of NGN 8 billion, if costed for.”
3. People make up a business
As individuals, sometimes we forget that businesses are run by people and with people.
Yes, there should be systems in place by businesses to provide the best possible customer experience but even these systems are handled by people.
He added, “The current situation is unprecedented and telecommunications networks are immensely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Let me give you a few examples: How do we get telecoms engineers, equipment and supplies (diesel, spares etc) to base stations under a lockdown scenario? Can we cross state borders?
“How do we get our technical partners to carry out needed network capacity expansions and maintenance in various locations spread across the country? How do we import the parts we need for network expansion and/or sustainability when many parts of our supply chain are also facing restrictions?”
Although the Federal Government’s latest COVID-19 advisory relaxed nationwide curfews from 10 pm to 4 pm, public gatherings of more than 20 people are still prohibited while citizens were advised to continue to observe hygiene precautionary measures.