Remote Work, Teleconferencing and the Pandemic: Report on Effect on Telecoms

by Ruth Seeley

Despite warnings of the downsides of virtual meetings dating back to 2005, including the lack of true social interaction and loss of “the interpersonal chemistry and synergy that develops in face-to-face meetings,” this is where we are now. 

Recently, has added a new report, “Impact of COVID-19 on Telecoms” to its offerings.

COVID-19 has massively disrupted businesses in a short period of time. The lost economic output measured in GDP worldwide could be as high as US$12 trillion.

China was the first country affected and industrial production fell 13.5% in the first two months of the year according to the China National Bureau of Statistics. The United States just passed a $2.2 trillion relief bill. Unemployment claims filed in the U.S. for the week ending March 20, 2019, were 3.3 Million, four times the worst weekly data reported in the 2009 financial collapse.

The world’s economy could grow at its slowest rate since 2009 this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). However, we should recognize that the events that led to this differ dramatically from 2009. COVID-19 is akin to the Spanish Flu but the economy today is more globally connected unlike 1917.

Current OECD estimates for global growth are 1.5%. The speed of COVID-19 has created an urgency for policy makers to act quickly to protect the public and avoid overwhelming hospitals. Business leaders will be equally challenged to quickly prepare for business interruption. This includes rapid changes in workforce logistics to encourage physical distancing, consumer demand shock, and supply chain disruptions.

Expect both forecasted GDP and CAPEX models to be frequently revised downward based on:

  • The infection rates of COVID-19 and ability of governments to bend the curve
  • Extent and duration of governments to lift lockdowns around the world
  • The effectiveness of governments in financially backing the key segments of the economy most impacted by extreme falloff in demand imposed by government shut down orders
  • The publisher believes that there will be changes to the communications industry, as a result of COVID-19.

Face to face meetings, conferences and office workspaces will not disappear. However, COVID-19 will accelerate trends in remote/distributed work, virtual meetings and electronic collaboration. In essence, electronic collaboration will substitute for some of the spending historically in travel and hospitality. As a result, the shift toward widely available broadband, the shift of enterprise workloads to cloud and SaaS and the importance of broadband wireless (5G) will gain extra importance. The publisher thinks we will see a shift of 5-10% of people who will change their behaviour to primarily work remotely. Predominantly this will be about a change in management behaviour and the development of trust in distributed working.

The telecommunication sector will be moderately impacted by COVID-19

Some CSPs will increase capital spending to support increases in broadband access driven by consumer demand. Data collected by Nokia Deepfield demonstrates that the network has held up far better under this enormous shift in traffic origination than might have been expected. However, this explosion in bandwidth demand has exhausted the overhead built into the network to guarantee reliability.

The post COVID-19 era will fundamentally change work force behavior

More employers will enact policies to encourage remote work practices in the future. Some suppliers will experience supply chain disruptions, but we think for the most part this will not be serious. Most suppliers implemented risk mitigation strategies ahead of COVID-19 to gain more control of key components related to infrastructure equipment.

The report looks at the effect of the pandemic on:

  • BT
  • Netflix
  • Nokia
  • Telstra
  • Verizon, and
  • Zoom.

Source: ResearchAndMarkets 

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