Understanding COVID-19 impact on the telecommunications sector


The overall outlook, globally as well as in India, telecom sector to be one of the few that may escape unscathed from the pandemic and the resultant lockdown. As the global economy continues through impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, the telecom sector being the invisible hand driving with this shift. Remote working, video conferencing, and telecommunications technology have quickly emerged as key enablers for business operations during this lockdown.

Several experts now believe that unlike the manufacturing and other sectors that have come to a near standstill, the telecom industry might emerge as the golden child of this economic slowdown. While demand for services continues to spike, given India’s dependence on wireless traffic, there is increased pressure on cellular infrastructure.

Mobile and broadband download speeds in India had fallen in March due to strain on the networks. Hence, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) has written to the Government to request streaming service providers such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Zee5 to switch to a lower definition streaming, to reduce advertisements and pop-ups, etc., in a bid to ease the strain on existing networks. Several service providers have already started working on this issue.

Handset and network equipment manufacturers will be impacted due to global disruption in supply chains, which will lead to increased costs and lack of availability. An additional area where Telcos may be able to help is in assisting the government with outreach and analytics to spread awareness about COVID-19, and to provide anonymised data to the government for analytics, which could be used for developing plans for combating the pandemic.

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