How governments and mobile operators are easing network congestion during the COVID-19 crisis

covid-19 2020

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Mats Granryd, Director-General, GSMA


  • Global Internet traffic has increased by about 30% in the past month.
  • Mobile operators have been working closely with governments to help manage unprecedented traffic needs.

In the wake of the social restrictions in place to help manage the threat of COVID-19, mobile broadband, fixed wireless connections and mobile apps have become the main tools for billions to stay in contact with everyone from medical professionals to work colleagues, educators and loved ones. Changing user demands due to this extraordinary situation have led to surges across mobile voice, text and data services in both download and upload streams.

In the past month, global Internet traffic has increased by about 30%, according to Akamai, a tech company that monitors web defenses for companies. That means that we have seen an entire year’s worth of growth in Internet traffic in just a few weeks. That growth was accomplished all without live sports streaming, which set new records prior to COVID-19.

During this unprecedented situation, mobile operators have been working closely with governments to support the management of the crisis through the provision of mobile services to the public and government. Spectrum resources, or frequencies, can be made available by governments during times of crisis. These resources can help optimize mobile network infrastructure to better serve the needs of communities and public services.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

A new strain of Coronavirus, COVID 19, is spreading around the world, causing deaths and major disruption to the global economy.

Responding to this crisis requires global cooperation among governments, international organizations and the business community, which is at the centre of the World Economic Forum’s mission as the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation.

The Forum has created the COVID Action Platform, a global platform to convene the business community for collective action, protect people’s livelihoods and facilitate business continuity, and mobilize support for the COVID-19 response. The platform is created with the support of the World Health Organization and is open to all businesses and industry groups, as well as other stakeholders, aiming to integrate and inform joint action.

As an organization, the Forum has a track record of supporting efforts to contain epidemics. In 2017, at our Annual Meeting, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) was launched – bringing together experts from government, business, health, academia and civil society to accelerate the development of vaccines. CEPI is currently supporting the race to develop a vaccine against this strand of the coronavirus.

Some mechanisms being implemented include:

  • Providing short-term/emergency spectrum licences to mobile network operators (MNOs) to access any portions of unallocated spectrum, renewable depending on national requirements
  • Expediting the issue of short-term/trial licences to MNOs where new technologies may enable operators to assist on delivering or augmenting connectivity and deploying services on an ad-hoc basis
  • Facilitating and expediting access to backhaul spectrum, which is used to connect base stations to the rest of the mobile network and the internet
  • Extending deadlines for any ongoing transitions or renewals for licensees providing high-speed broadband and other critical services
  • Removing red tape and restrictions on ways to immediately access more spectrum, including spectrum sharing

We have already seen some impressive examples of governments and mobile operators working together to help manage this unrivalled and rapidly changing situation, including:

  • United States. The United States Federal Communications Commission has granted short-term access to available mobile spectrum in important spectrum bands to provide additional mobile broadband capacity. These bands include both “coverage” bands (600 MHz) and “capacity” bands (1.7 -2.2 GHz). (Spectrum bands have different characteristics, making them suitable for different purposes. In general, frequencies below 1 GHz can travel greater distances and therefore they have better coverage. Higher-frequency transmissions carry more data, so they have greater capacity, without offering better coverage. Both types are needed to offer advanced mobile services to connect everyone and everything.)
  • Ireland. The Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) in Ireland is temporarily releasing extra radio spectrum in the 700 MHz and 2.6 GHz bands to provide additional capacity for mobile phone and broadband provision and liberalizing the use of 2.1 GHz so that it can be used for 4G and other technologies, rather than just for 3G.
  • Jordan. Jordan is releasing available spectrum to MNOs in coverage and capacity bands.
  • Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is releasing available spectrum to MNOs in coverage and capacity bands on a short-term basis (700MHz band).
  • Tunisia. Tunisia is making all International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) spectrum tech-neutral on a short-term basis. [This means that, rather than being earmarked for a specific technology (e.g. 3G or 4G), MNOs have the flexibility to use the spectrum for the technology that has the biggest impact.]
  • Panama. In Panama, the Regulator (​Autoridad Nacional de los Servicios Públicos) will grant temporary spectrum licenses to MNOs for additional capacity upon request.
  • Brazil. An agreement between MNOs and regulator Anatel in Brazil confirms that the agency will take any regulatory action necessary, including with spectrum, to make sure all services remain intact.
  • South Africa. The regulator ICASA in South Africa is working with MNOs on “spectrum relief” (i.e. access to more spectrum) to increase capacity in the face of huge demand for data

“Changing user demands due to this extraordinary situation have led to surges across mobile voice, text and data services in both download and upload streams.”

—Mats Granryd

Currently, mobile operators are sustaining the sudden and significant increase in traffic demand. The Global System Mobile Association (GSMA) advocates for timely, affordable and fair access to a sufficient amount of spectrum for the mobile industry to continue to connect more people and meet rapidly rising data demand. In this unprecedented time, we call for governments to work with the mobile industry to find ways to support the enormous efforts to keep everyone and everything connected in this increasing time of need.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Commission Vice-President Rehn exaggerates Eurozone’s growth prospects

Industrial policy: recommendations to support Europe’s leadership in six strategic business areas

Number of MEPs to be reduced after EU elections in 2019

5 ways to break down the barriers for women to access leadership roles

A Sting Exclusive: “On the road to Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement”, by Ambassador Katakami of the Japanese Mission to the European Union

AI can help us unlock the world’s most complex operating system – the human body

5 amazing schools that will make you wish you were young again

Healthcare guidance apps to professional’s continued education?

The world needs a circular economy. Help us make it happen

Victims of terrorism remembered

Banks cannot die but can be fined

The next generation is key for a European renaissance

UN appeals for international support as flood waters rise in wake of second Mozambique cyclone

UN expert calls for international investigation into ‘evident murder’ of Jamal Khashoggi

‘The clock is ticking’ on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals, says UN deputy chief

A Monday to watch the final act of a Greek tragedy; will there be catharsis or more fear?

Syrian Constitutional Committee a ‘sign of hope’: UN envoy tells Security Council

Coronavirus: Commission stands ready to continue supporting EU’s agri-food sector

Norway is returning Easter Island artefacts to Chile (Will Britain ever return the marbles to Greece?)

MWC 2016 Live: Mobile ad industry still waiting for “revolution”

Brexit casts a shadow over the LSE – Deutsche Börse merger: a tracer of how or if brexit is to be implemented

MWC 2016 Live: Roshan CEO opens up on Afghanistan challenges

EU Commission announces Safe Harbour 2.0 and a wider Data protection reform

Commission sets moderate greenhouse gas reduction targets for 2030

From Russia with love: Brussels and Moscow close to an agreement on Ukraine’s gas supplies

Sudan Prime Minister survives attempted assassination

Monday’s Daily Brief: WFP mulls ‘last resort’ Yemen aid suspension, top peacekeeping awardee announced, abuzz over Bee Day, Ebola threat ‘very high’

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Second review shows improvements but a permanent Ombudsperson should be nominated by 28 February 2019

Why helping cross-border commuters is key to fighting COVID-19

Future EU-UK Partnership: European Commission takes first step to launch negotiations with the United Kingdom

Emotional control and introspectivity in times of pandemic

Why economic growth depends on closing the interview gap

The Khashoggi affair: A global complot staged behind closed doors

THE ROAD TO GANESHA

EU-Turkey relations: EU considers imposing sanctions while Turkey keeps violating Cyprus’ sovereignty

What if Trump wins the November election and Renzi loses the December referendum?

Nicaragua crisis: One year in, more than 60,000 have fled, seeking refuge

Trump after marginalizing G20 attacks Europe and China where it hurts, brandishes currency war

EU-Ukraine Summit: moving forward together in solidarity

MEPs to prioritise environment and climate action in next long-term budget

In Libya, Guterres ‘deeply concerned’ by risk of fresh military confrontation, urges restraint

UN forum to bring ‘big space data’ benefits to disaster response in Africa

The 5 lessons from New York Climate Week to help us combat deforestation

More than four in 10 women, live in fear of refusing partner’s sexual demands, new UN global study finds

Poverty and social exclusion skyrocket with austerity

3 ways to use digital identity systems in global supply chains

EU leads the torn away South Sudan to a new bloody civil war

Gender parity can boost economic growth. Here’s how

Technology can help solve the climate crisis – but it will need our help

An open letter from business to world leaders: “Be ambitious, and together we can address climate change”

Cyclone Idai: UNICEF warns of ‘race against time’ to protect children, prevent spread of disease in flood-ravaged Mozambique

EU-US trade war? EU calls for logic while Trump’s administration is a loose cannon in a dangerous lose-lose situation for global prosperity

This AI outperformed 20 corporate lawyers at legal work

We spend half our time at work in meetings – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing

Is history a new NATO weapons against Russia?

How three US cities are using data to end homelessness

2013, a Political Odyssey: What future for Italy?

The jobs forecast is unsettled. It’s time for a reskilling revolution

The European Parliament fails to really restrict the rating agencies

UPDATED: Thousands flee fighting around Libyan capital as Guterres condemns escalation, urges ‘immediate halt’ to all military operations

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s