As the world continues to reel from the spread of COVID-19, and operators brace themselves for huge spikes in home broadband usage, Vodafone Group has come up with a five-point plan that it hopes will help counter the impact of the novel coronavirus. (See UK mobile networks hit problems as COVID-19 spreads.)
It may alarm some that the group is proposing to "assist governments" to "understand people's movements" by "developing insights based on large anonymised data sets" – in other words, track where people are going.
Vodafone emphasized that all data and findings will be anonymous, and expressed itself as willing to work with partners, including governments, to ensure that measures can be implemented. The operator pointed out that it is already producing an aggregated and anonymous heat map for the Lombardy region in Italy to help the authorities to better understand population movements in order to help thwart the spread of COVID-19.
The fact that Vodafone is proposing such a measure is a reflection of the strange times in which we currently live. The other four points in its plan are more prosaic, and largely reference the ongoing need to maintain networks and service quality in the face of growing demand, with traffic rising by 50% in some of its markets; provide network capacity for critical government functions such as healthcare and education; support the dissemination of information to the public; and enable people to work from home, partly through support for small businesses.
Vodafone said the measures will remain in effect until September 1, 2020, and can be extended, should it be necessary, in individual markets.
For more on this topic, see:
- Eurobites: BT reassures UK users over network resilience
- Euro operators call for broadband discipline as COVID-19 drives people home
- Network operators brace for COVID-19 traffic spikes
- COVID-19 makes data connectivity as critical as toilet paper
- Brits show love for fiber in a time of COVID-19
— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading