Telco sector braces for increased demand

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Telco sector braces for increased demand

Australia’s major telcos and NBN Co are bracing for changes in data usage and traffic as more people start working from home due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

One of several discussions between communications minister Paul Fletcher and senior telco execs held in a "virtual roundtable", participants discussed preparation and planning and continuity measures.

“Our telcos are quickly responding to the evolving challenges of COVID-19 and have in place business continuity plans to continue to deliver vital telecommunications services,” Fletcher said.

NBN Co said it is “optimising” its network to help keep up with the expected rise in daytime network traffic.

Fletcher said the network operator is reporting normal traffic patterns but is also seeing a 6 percent increase during the day and at peak times.

NBN Co said it is looking to follow the example of Italy, which showed an estimated 26 percent increase, but is bracing for a potential 40 percent increase.

“NBN Co and other industry participants are expecting a change in traffic patterns, with higher traffic levels during the day and increased activity in the suburbs as compared to business districts,” Fletcher added.

“All of these factors are being taken into consideration with retail service providers in provisioning the network.”

Fletcher also asked telcos to “work collaboratively” to support Australians as their work arrangements change in the coming months to minimise the public health risk posed by the Coronavirus.

The telcos also agreed to form a “special working group” to “share relevant information and discuss emerging engineering, security or operational issues” related to the outbreak.

Another issue discussed was on how technicians would interact with self-isolating customers, agreeing to come up with protocols to guide the techs, including guidance on personal protective equipment.

“Today’s roundtable revealed thorough preparation across the telecommunications industry,” Fletcher said. “The government will continue to engage closely with the telecommunications sector as circumstances evolve.”

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