Cable Tech

BT reports on 100 days of lockdown solitude

As the UK hits the 100 day coronavirus lockdown mark, BT and mobile arm EE have gathered some insights on emerging trends and data-usage patterns.

In a commissioned online survey, conducted by Opinion Matters, more than half of respondents said they had been using technology more often since COVID-19 had shut workplaces across the country.

Over a third agreed they had discovered new digital skills, and would keep using them after lockdown.

Booking virtual appointments, mobile banking and online GP services are among the more popular new ways of doing things in a pandemic.

Tech on trend
BT and EE's network patterns revealed certain trends as well, but perhaps not so surprising given these have been well-documented elsewhere.

Zoom users on EE's network increased fivefold during lockdown compared to earlier in 2020, for example, although the old-fashioned phone call is still the favored way for "loved ones" to keep in touch. There was a 90% increase in calls lasting over five minutes compared to February.

There's been a bit of a surge in dating app usage too. EE said the likes of Tinder, Bumble, Match, Hinge and Grindr saw over 70% more users in June, compared to the beginning of lockdown.

With long commutes on hold for many, work days are starting later, with the spike in Wi-Fi calls shifting from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., with 11 a.m. still peak call time.

Duvet days: Working from home has meant more free time – and getting to grips with technology.  (Source: Annie Spratt on Unsplash)
Duvet days: Working from home has meant more free time – and getting to grips with technology.
(Source: Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

Mass migration
In May, BT claimed it undertook one of the UK's biggest office-to-home working migration projects, with nearly 10,000 consumer call center staff from BT, EE and Plusnet (a quad-play provider owned by BT) becoming virtual call centers.

The 100-day report card gave no specific mention on network performance – but the implication was that everything was fine on that score – and looked to be more a PR opportunity than anything else.

"From keeping connected to staying educated and entertained, I'm proud that we've served the nation,” boasted Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s consumer division.

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As with many other operators, BT and EE have offered various discounts and offers – invariably targeted at those most in need – to help weather the COVID-19 storm.

Where BT has taken a firm lead, however, is executive pay.

A couple of months ago, CEO Philip Jansen revealed he will donate his salary – for the next six months at least – to the UK's National Health Service to help it in the fight against COVID-19, and to businesses affected by the crisis in his local community.

BT further pledged at the time to continue paying its employees in full "for the foreseeable future," complete with an annual 1.5% pay increase for non-managerial staff (though managers won't get theirs).

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— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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