There are huge spikes in internet activity across the world during coronavirus pandemic due to lockdown. Where most businesses are shut down, telecom companies in Pakistan just like those across the world are still offering their services since these are the most needed in present situation.
There is no doubt that internet traffic is abnormal these days. The surges may have also caused a little disturbance in connectivity which is hard to tolerate. Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has notified about the reason on social media:
Overall users have no choice but to face the impending critical issues in online activity similar to what students faced in their online classes. People are feeling like paying more for less effective service.
Even most of the online classes memes explain interruptions due to slow connection etc.
Most of the problems are due to the significant inefficiencies in current network infrastructure. Admittedly the major issues cannot be fixed at the moment but telecom companies in Pakistan can still help their subscribers in these dire circumstances through multiple ways
Social Media Demands Special Offers from Telecom Sector in Pakistan
Users have been quite vocal on social media about wanting special benefits from telecommunication industry (telco) as it has been going on in other countries.
A particular group is running hashhtag to demand telecom sector necessary action in the form of lowering their rates or offering some relief to the users, least thing they can do.
By other countries, people usually mean developed countries or more privileged countries than Pakistan. These countries anticipated the need for the world to stay online, so big players in telecom industry improved their plans/
Telecom sector in Pakistan are operating for a long time and have earned billions from the people. Users are expecting them to provide some kind of relief during the pandemic when most amenities are closed. Not everyone can recharge their account via credit/debit card.
How Can Telecom Sector Help during This Time of Crisis?
The connection problem is more of a long shot but for now they can help by making offers that can help people at least stay connected. Pakistani citizens are for this giving the example of internet service providers in the United States.
They also criticized the existing offers telecom companies are making to users.
While promoters were successful in making this hashhtag trend on top still they didn’t expect the industry to take any action.
Telcos might be confused about which action to take first as there are countless demands. However, the best one seems like doing something for education sector.
There are multiple ways telecom sector can come forward to mitigate the suffering in time of coronavirus pandemic. For example, it can help education sector build necessary infrastructure and mechanism for facilitating remote learning.
It can also aid governments in running awareness campaigns regarding coronavirus preventive measures. Like PTA is sending messages to vulnerable citizens who might have come in contact with the victims (the process is off course backed by some data analytics and info about citizens’ location).
Also the ringtones have been changed into the awareness message
Are They Financially Equipped to Address Any of the Issues?
While the sector is already taking some necessary steps according to its capacity the major issue that remains is lowering the rates which might not be easy for Telcos as they are in the game to make money.
Interestingly, Pakistani Twitter saw two totally different hashtags trending on top in the same day. While one demanded action from Telecom sector the other demanded education sector to stop online classes. Well, if looked closely both hashtags were linked. Since, major issue in the way of online education was lack of infrastructure and inability of everyone to stay connected both these hashtags validated each other upto certain extent.
Still one can’t ignore the fact that connectivity is not the only issue that bars smooth conducting of online classes.
It is completely possible for Telecom sector in Pakistan to alter their outrageous caharges. The sector is playing a key role in Pakistan’s economy for the past 5 years. According to reports, the sector has invested 4.5 Billion USD in Pakistan’s economy. How much it would take for them to implement some developmental changes that are truly beneficial amidst the crisis.
People have stayed loyal to their networks. Now it is a test for telcos to display their loyalty to their subscribers. Apart from telecom sector a robust policy making on part of government is also required since state intervention is key when it comes to linking different sectors together which can be health, education and IT particularly in time of coronavirus pandemic.