With the number of Covid-19 cases in the country about to surge in the next few days, the central government has announced a nationwide lockdown for 21 days. With people locked inside their homes, the usage of home broadband and cellular data has shot up massively, especially for remote working tools, online games, and entertainment.
This increased internet usage has now increased the pressure on the infrastructure of major telecom service providers. To tackle this, Bharti Airtel has now come up with a unique proposal. The company has urged its rivals Reliance Jio, Vodafone Idea and state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Limited (MTNL) to come together and help people get uninterrupted internet facilities amid the coronavirus lockdown.
The partnership of all these players can be facilitated through intra-circle roaming (ICR) agreements. This arrangement is expected to help users to get wider coverage of 2G, 3G, and 4G services. It’ll also help those who are under roaming and not in their registered network circle enjoy uninterrupted internet access.
In its letter to other telecom players, Bharti Airtel said that at this crucial juncture, all TSPs should come together as an industry to serve the nation and prepare for any kind of exigency. “The company would like to put in place a protocol amongst telecom service providers for implementation of various measures, including intra-circle roaming,” the letter said.
The company has also appointed chief technology officer Randeep Sekhon to coordinate with other telecom operators. An ET report, citing sources, said that Jio might activate ICR arrangements to ensure uninterrupted telecom connectivity. It is worth noting that these companies have also activated this service during the cyclonic storm Fani in 2019. Vodafone Idea also said that the company is also following a standard disaster operating procedure.
Besides Airtel, the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) is also working to ensure that the internet services remain unaffected during these times. The COAI had also urged OTT platforms to take measures to ensure continuous smooth video streaming to people by reducing the video quality. It has also urged these platforms to remove advertisements and pop-ups from the platforms as they consume high data.