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One year of COVID-19: Big opportunity for Telecom Operators

Published on March 15, 2021

Several countries headed some weeks ago into lockdown again to reduce COVID-19 spreads. These protective measures, as it has been happening during the whole year, put mounting pressure on the telecoms operators to deliver high-quality, reliable, and fast connectivity services. However, it has been an interesting period of time for the telecom sector, and it still is. 

Households and their Internet connections have experienced a significant increase in usage over the last months. Some have suffered with low-speed copper-based connections or poor Wi-Fi performance at homes, and struggled to deliver streaming content, video calls or in general simultaneous connections with sufficient quality. 

Nowadays, we spend most of our time at home, in these unprecedented, uncertain, challenging times… Despite being these some of the most used phrases in 2020, we truly believe that our mission is more important than ever because home schooling, home office and home entertainment are here to stay. 

All of us have realized the importance of a robust network performance at homes for customer satisfaction and recognize valuable attributes for our internet connectivity, such as excellent quality, reliability, and high capacity. 

As recently stated by Ericsson, “although network quality isn’t the only way to create differentiation and drive value for customers, it’s clear that it is a cornerstone of successful strategies and improved commercial KPIs.” Investments in improving network performance and network experience can help operators defend or regain market leadership, through competitive benchmarking. 

The value of ubiquitous high-speed broadband connectivity has also been demonstrated in numerous socioeconomic studies. In the report Full-fibre access as strategic infrastructure: strengthening public policy for Europe, Analysys Mason concludes that “reliable high speed reduces broadband users’ intention to churn more than anything else.” Furthermore, the report acknowledges that “the COVID-19 experience might stimulate demand for an ultra-reliable and overprovisioned fat pipe for all eventualities rather than a ‘good enough’ connection that is geared to consumer entertainment applications. […] End users do not want ‘up to xMbit/s’ depending on signal attenuation or number of concurrent users on the network; they want an ultra-high-speed connection and no conditions attached.” 

In Europe, users in countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and Spain saw their network experience at homes somehow affected, partially and/or temporarily, as we can see in our series of articles on COVID-19 impact on European residential networks. This mostly happened during the first months of lockdowns and during some recent days of the Season Holidays or hard lock-downs. However, in general terms, Internet service has been, and still is, stable in these markets, but the Quality of Experiences and Customer Experience has been affected as some of you might have realized in your own shoes. 

At MedUX we are continuously monitoring network performance and quality of experience to ensure that ISPs’ networks can continue delivering high-quality services and meet end-users’ connectivity requirements during the COVID-19 crisis.

 Download our series report by country the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany to have a general overview of the lockdown’s impact on fixed broadband networks, as well as all our insights into how the Customer Experience was affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and the increase of work from home measures. 

At this moment, with still a large number of COVID-19 cases worldwide, sanitary alert has been kept up and mobility restriction measures and lockdown rules have remained in force. 2021 started with earlier curfews in many countries, stay-at-home orders and other measures, so, home Internet usage remained high in the last months.

However, throughout the year we have seen the improvements towards faster and faster speeds on both wired and wireless networks. According to Kester Mann, network operator specialist at industry analyst firm CCS Insight, network operators have seen an improvement in customer loyalty and higher customer satisfaction. 

“During lockdown, some operators temporarily upgraded people's tariffs, for example offering free content or faster download speeds. Can they now use this goodwill by encouraging people to sign up to these services more permanently?”, he wondered in his article The Covid-19 Opportunity for Operators. “About one in seven people in our survey said they would be happy to spend more on their home broadband package, in return for a better service”, explains. 

For example, the United Kingdom has been under a national lockdown since January 5th: population must stay at home, restaurants, pubs, many schools and shops are closed (except those shops for basic necessities). According to London Internet Exchange (LINX), there has been no critical drop in service in the country. On this regard, major internet service providers (ISPs) have agreed to take new measures to help support their customers. 

Richard Petrie, Linx CTO, said the exchange’s peak traffic record stood at 4.30Tbps in March 2020, but was 5.64Tbps in November and 5.93Tbps in the first few weeks of 2021.

Figure 1: Internet traffic peak days, London Internet Exchange (LINX)

Internet traffic peak days, London Internet Exchange (LINX)

In the UK, some operators removed the existing caps on broadband usage for their customers, allowing them to use unlimited data when staying at home. Others are providing its customers with faster broadband speeds. On its part, Ofcom has also worked with providers to help children have a better and easiest access to online classes while learning from home. 

These measures help to ensure fixed broadband and landline services availability in homes and improve the user’s quality of service and quality of experience at a time when telecommunications and network performance are more important than ever. 

MedUX has been monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on the customer experience over Wi-Fi and Ethernet since the pandemic struck Europe, with internet traffic increasing due to mobility restrictions, lockdown measures and work-from-home and home-schooling policies. 

We are glad to see how well the Internet held up to the massive usage increase during the last 12 months year. The telecommunications sector continues to be a vital player in this scenario, and it is quickly adapting to answer to market demands. 

If you find yourself interested, we would love to talk about how we can support your customer experience and customer satisfaction strategy! Get our demo and find out how you can gain end-to-end network visibility and real-time insights and performance statistics, to anticipate and address network issues.