UN telecoms group launches platform to protect global networks

24 Mar 2020

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In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the ITU has created a new platform for governments and companies to help protect global telecom networks.

With millions across the world now working from home where possible – and many out of work – telecoms and broadband networks are under enormous pressure to meet increased demand. Now, the International Telecoms Union (ITU) – a body of the UN – has announced a new global platform to assist national policymakers, regulators and industry stakeholders to ensure that networks are kept operational and telecommunication services are available to all.

ITU secretary-general Houlin Zhao said in a statement that this platform will share and pool experiences and initiatives, as well as policy and regulatory measures designed to help ensure communities remain connected both during and after the ongoing pandemic.

Some examples already put forward by national regulators include OSIPTEL Peru ensuring that telecom services cannot be suspended or terminated for lack of payment during the current crisis, with additional traffic management giving priority to teleworking, e-health and online education tools.

On the network operator side, Telefónica Spain announced it was to increase the monthly data allowance of all customers by 30GB for the next two months at no extra cost.

‘Time is of the essence’

“This new ITU platform will provide countries struggling to find appropriate solutions to ensure their networks’ resiliency with relevant and trustworthy information and expertise on how to cope with the stresses faced by their infrastructure,” Houlin said.

“And because time is of the essence, it will give those countries that still have time to prepare an opportunity to learn from what is being done elsewhere – from emergency spectrum reassignments to guidelines for consumers on responsible use.

“Serving initially as an informative tool, the Global Network Resiliency platform will soon be expanded to provide an interactive and engaging platform for continuous sharing throughout this crisis and beyond.”

The ITU is currently working with several countries to develop national emergency telecommunication plans, such as setting up monitoring systems and providing emergency telecommunications equipment.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic