Ajay Awasthi, chief executive officer, Spectranet spoke on how the telecommunications services provider was able to deliver quality service during the lockdown and challenges operators face is expanding capacity.
This pandemic lockdown presents huge opportunities for telecom and e-commerce companies as virtual communication and online transactions have become the order of the day. How is Spectranet faring?
The lockdown has presented more challenges than opportunities. Spectranet being a 24×7 service provider, the challenges are pretty much unique and related to ensuring site uptime in remote corners, ensuring call center operations with strict distancing rules, attending to customer complaints in their premises. All this needs to be done while ensuring safety of our people.
Cost of operations has gone up significantly as urgent network upgrades have to be done to ensure un-compromised customer experience while browsing. We have also seen an upsurge in call center volumes with customers enquiring about where to renew. This means deployment of more manpower.
Humbling to mention that team Spectranet, with its utmost commitment to customer service excellence, has fared well in countering these challenges in double quick time
In terms of traffic, how is your network coping with your consumers?
The Data traffic in the network has increased over 30%. While this is a happy situation to be in, the sudden increase in traffic poses a challenge in terms of keeping up with the quality of service. In order to ensure that our customers experience is not compromised, Spectranet has acted fast and invested significantly to enhance capacities on the access and backhaul network.
By what are the major areas or products you have received the largest traffic on your network?
The traffic for Video applications (like Netflix, You tube) has shown a significant increase and so has the Facebook related traffic.
Also, we have observed trends wherein the traffic during night time has started overtaking the daytime traffic. We are happy that our Mega Value Plans offering anytime data plus free and truly unlimited night time browsing are becoming a big hit with our customers.
With the closure of business premises, how have your consumers being able to recharge their modems?
Being a technology company Spectranet has been investing heavily in building up Digital channels. Our customers can effortlessly pay through any of our digital channels available on Self Care.
Telcos may be making money from this lockdown, but in terms of telecom equipment importation and network rollout, how will it affect telcos like Spectranet?
In order to increase our access and backhaul network capacities, as mentioned earlier, we had to invest significant amounts and incur extra costs for ensuring 24X7 availability of network and call center operations.
To sustain this growth in traffic, fresh equipment is required to be imported. With tight FOREX supply, we are finding it extremely difficult to get access to FOREX to pay for this equipment. This will result in delayed projects and consequent degradation of services.
Have you experienced are challenges like refueling your base stations or movement of your essential staff from law enforcement agencies?
Telecoms being one of the essential services, the law enforcement agencies have been extremely cooperative. This has helped us in keeping the vital operations like re-fueling of cell sites, carrying out repair and maintenance work going without any hindrance.
What lessons can we learn from the current situation to get things done better as businesses and as a country?
This pandemic has completely changed the way work used to be done and transformed how companies engage and interact with their customers. Digitalization is the way forward. It is not only more cost efficient but also act as a turbo charger for productivity. Critical to add that a move towards digitalization will also need robust framework for data security and privacy related concerns.
Recently, the Naira was devalued, how does this affect your business?
Devaluation of Naira has certainly increased the cost of doing business. All the dollar denominated CAPEXes have suddenly got inflated by the devaluation. Similarly, cost of importing modems and other devices have increased. The devaluation is going to put significant financial burden on smaller operators. Similarly, cost of importing modems and other devices have increased. The devaluation and scarce availability of FOREX is going to hamper expansion of operations in a significant manner for smaller operators.
How has the lockdown impacted on telecoms services on the part of Spectranet?
The lockdown has presented quite a few challenges. Spectranet being a 24×7 service provider, the challenges are pretty much unique and related to ensuring site uptime in remote corners, ensuring call center operations with strict distancing rules, attending to customer complaints in their premises. All this needs to be done while ensuring safety of our people. Cost of operations has gone up significantly as urgent network upgrades have to be done to ensure un-compromised customer experience while browsing.
We have also seen an upsurge in call center volumes with customers enquiring about where to renew. This has resulted in deployment of more manpower. Humbling to mention that team Spectranet, with its utmost commitment to customer service excellence, has fared well in countering these challenges in double quick time
Checks showed that Spectranet customers are largely enterprises, I mean corporate bodies, but these entities are not opening offices, with most staff working from home. What is the percentage spike in traffic, either low or high?
Spectranet has a fair mix of enterprise, retail 4G LTE and HomeFiber ( FTTx) customers. While the traffic from enterprise customers has reduced, we have seen an upsurge in traffic from retail customers.
Overall, the data traffic in the network has increased over 30%. While this is a happy situation to be in, the sudden increase in traffic poses a challenge in terms of keeping up with the quality of service. In order to ensure that our customers experience is not compromised, Spectranet has acted fast and invested significantly to enhance capacities on the access and backhaul network.
What strategies is Spectranet putting in place to remain up and doing this period?
This pandemic has completely changed the way work used to be done and transformed how we engage and interact with our customers. Digitalization is the way forward. It is not only more cost efficient but also act as a turbo charger for productivity. Being a technology company Spectranet has been investing heavily in building up Digital channels. The pace of digitalization needs to be hastened up now.
Going forward, what is the fate of Tier 2 operators in the country?
Spectranet by virtue of its robust network with industry leading uptime figures, excellent customer service and an extremely strong brand, will continue to play its role as a leading Internet Service Provider. Our recent diversification into FTTx an WTTx based Fixed line services has further strengthened the position of the brand as numero uno in the industry. We will continue to invest in cutting edge technologies to offer high speed broadband in Nigeria, at par with international broadband standards.
ITREALMS 2020 Webinar Series: Adebayo to Demystify 5G v COVID-19
Engr. Gbenga Adebayo, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) has been confirmed as another speaker at the forthcoming ITREALMS Webinar as part of the 2020 Digital Rights series.
Hosted by the multiple international award-winning medium, ITREALMSOnline, on Saturday, June 6, 2020 by 11am, the event would be centred on the theme:“Role of IP in 5G v COVID-19 Debate.”
Disclosing this, Remmy Nweke, editor-in-Chief of ITREALMS, said that the webinar being hosted to commemorate the World IPv6 Day, 2020 is part of their continuous education under its digital rights series.
Engr. Adebayo, he said, is not new to the telecommunications industry and will bring his experiences to bear in demystifying the relationship of the Fifth Generation (5G) and Coronavirus also known as COVID-19.
Adebayo, he disclosed would be speaking on“ALTON: 5G v COVID-19” subtheme, at the Zoom Webinar scheduled for Saturday, June 6, by 11am Nigeria time, with meeting identification as748 9663 7846 and password: 3ggKaz.
Engr. Adebayo, is a pioneer member of ALTON and currently the chairman of CNSL with over 20years’ in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector in the country.
ITREALMS recalls that a collaborating organization, DigitalSENSE Africa, has been leading this forte under the aegis of the Nigeria IPv6 Roundtable in commemoration of the World Internet Protocol Version Six (IPv6) Day, every June 6; to promote the adoption of IPv6 for the products and services as well as create awareness, especially in Nigeria.
Nweke equally noted that ITREALMS collaboration with DigitalSENSE Africa on this series is deliberate consider it has been an Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) accredited At-Large Structure (ALS), which brought IPv6 awareness to Nigeria since 2011.
This year’s virtual event, he said, thus, is to sustain the awareness creation around the IPv6 evolution despite the Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic, which course was occasioned by the depletion of the Internet Protocol version Four (IPv4), over eight years ago.
Smartphone Shipments to Plunge by 11.9% in 2020 Fueled by Ongoing COVID-19 Challenges- IDC Reports
The worldwide smartphone market is forecast to decline 11.9% year over year in 2020 with shipments totaling 1.2 billion units, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker.
The forecast follows the largest year-over-year decline in history in the first quarter of 2020 (1Q20).
Smartphone shipments are now expected to decline 18.2% in the first half of the year as the macroeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect consumer spending.
Global smartphone shipments are not expected to return to growth until the first quarter of 2021 (1Q21).
Sangeetika Srivastava, senior research analyst with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers said, “What started as a supply-side crisis has evolved into a global demand-side problem.
“Nationwide lockdowns and rising unemployment have reduced consumer confidence and reprioritized spending towards essential goods, directly impacting the uptake of smartphones in the short term.
“On the brighter side, 5G is expected to be a catalyst throughout the forecast period, which will play a vital role in worldwide smartphone market recovery in 2021.”
From a geographic standpoint, the Chinese economy will continue to be impacted by COVID-19, however signs of improvement are showing as lockdowns and supply chain disruptions have begun to ease a bit.
For the most part, factories have resumed operations and the market has opened with some travel and logistical restrictions, leading IDC to believe the China domestic market will only see a single digit decline in 2020.
In contrast, Europe has been hit hard by COVID-19, especially in severely impacted countries like Italy and Spain, which will cause a double-digit decline in the region this year.
Nonetheless, IDC expects the top vendors in the region to maintain their market shares driven by rotating strategies such as higher flagship launches and forming stronger ecommerce footprints.
Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, said “China’s recovery has been impressive to say the least, especially given the initial impact of COVID-19 on the country,”
“There’s no question that challenges lie ahead for the smartphone industry and we believe the economic downturn is going to cause some fluctuation in the vendor and price-tier landscape.
“The surge in consumer spending around devices that are less mobile than smartphones (PCs, monitors, video game consoles, etc.) will undoubtedly take a share of the consumer wallet that would have been put towards smartphone upgrades and 5G.
“We believe this will result in even more aggressively priced 5G smartphones than expected prior to the pandemic.
“This could result in some share wins for the vendors that position their portfolios to capitalize on this change.”
FG Declares Telecommunications Facilities Critical Infrastructure
Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, minister of Communications and Digital Economy, has directed Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to submit a comprehensive list of their facility locations all over the country as federal government approves security for telecommunications infrastructure to protect them from vandalism and theft.
Pantami, in a statement, Tuesday said, the Nigerian telecommunications industry depends on a number of infrastructure that play a critical role in the smooth delivery of telecoms services.
“These are part of Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) because of the important role they play, in ensuring security and in the delivery of other essential services.
“The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has led to a massive migration to digital platforms and has increased the level of importance of Critical National Infrastructure to the sustenance of our economy and the security of the nation.
“President Muhammadu Buhari, has approved and also directed that necessary physical protective measures be emplaced to safeguard telecommunications infrastructure deployed across the country,” he stated.
The minister noted that this will address the challenge of vandalism of Critical National Infrastructure. It will also go a long way in supporting the implementation of the National Broadband Plan (2020-2025). He thanked president Buhari, for the timely approval.
The statement signed by Uwa Suleiman, his spokesperson, stated that, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Defence Headquarters (DHQ), Nigeria Police Force (NPF), Department of State Security Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) have been notified of Mr President’s directive.
“We are also working towards the reinforcement of these directives through appropriate regulatory instruments,” he said.
The minister commends the security institutions for their commitment so far.
He stated that implementation of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) and the implementation of the National Digital Economy Policy and Strategy unveiled by the President have repositioned the ICT sector.
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