The role of Digital Service Providers in light of the pandemic

The role of Digital Service Providers in light of the pandemic

Digital Service Providers should in an ideal world, be able to cope with the requirements of the pandemic and provide services that match the needs of lockdown. If the majority of experts are correct then there is still a chance that a second wave of COVID-19 could present itself again later in the year.

Could telecoms, particularly those with DSP ambitions, develop services that could be quickly rolled-out if a lockdown situation came by again? The answer is, surprisingly few. There is still much activity in the form of offering services to medical staff, or a suspension on data caps so that students are able to study for their exams. Other than that, there is little on offer.

It is largely accepted that this pandemic has changed the way we live, work and use technology for our activities.

CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella says that, “we’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months, from remote teamwork and learning, to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security.” 

Of course, Satya and Microsoft are not alone in recognizing a kind of structural roadblock, which has just been given a boost to move it along. Several other industry leaders and analysts are contemplating the transformational potential that is caused by COVID-19, usually with one eye on the possible advantageous and beneficial impacts, for their own commercial activities.

Citrix is the obvious work from home and desk-top enabler. Citrix is approaching companies with advice and helping them fight their way through the lockdown. It has launched ‘Remote Works’, a new virtual series that is developed to share tips and methods of best practice for staying both focused and productive while working from home. It also sells products.

Telecoms companies should also be supporting the rising wave of user demand for stay at home working with specific and niche services. Their networks – both fixed and mobile – have always been the much-needed glue between user and cloud and as things currently stand, operators are coping very well with the situation. Despite there not being much of a rise in mobile data usage, the fixed line option in countries around the world has been working tirelessly as applications such as Zoom and slack are accessed over Wi-Fi. Fixed broadband has experienced a huge boom.

Where do telcos fit in?

Will most of those who have been in lockdown see their two months in isolation as something they would like to continue, even on a part time basis, or will most of them never want to see a laptop open on a kitchen table ever again?

Industry Analyst Chris Lewis says “The real telco impact has been to discover that the networks worked – great!” But apart from that he says, he can’t see there being a compelling business case. After all, you’ll be up against the Zooms of the world offering these sorts of services for free or very low cost. I think the profitability of the connectivity for providing the services is good, but I’m just not sure that telcos could make a business out of competing with Zoom and the plethora of other, often free, services that are available.”

He also thinks there is potential for more secure business offerings which could tick boxes on resilience, security and high performance. But, will people want to continue to work from home after lockdown is lifted?

Security is of course, an issue for companies with staff working from home however, some may be willing to pay extra for home working connectivity if security comes with it.

Deutsche Telekom has recently announced what it has labelled a solution for small companies at home, which are being targeted by cyber criminals. It’s named, Business Network Project Complete and collaborates WLAN router and smart firewall in one device and apparently protects against attacks from the Internet. Will telcos be able to thrive by driving the subject of security?

Patrick Donegan, founder of security specialist HardenStance, says that “The home security domain has many devices that are often poorly secured, but there are a lot of people with a stake in fixing the problem. At the moment, it’s only the savvy consumers who are left to fix it, the result of which is that the problem is nowhere near fixed”. 

It is obviously early days and many companies are now looking at the option of letting their employees spend more time working from home. In the current situation, this is a risk for them.

Telcos should review their security solutions at scale, if they are to take a more centralized role in the rapidly shifting landscape.