If there’s a silver lining to Covid-19, it’s for telcos. The first round of lockdown restrictions of Covid-19 brought new realities to the household, as millions of employees, school-goers and students looked to home broadband to keep them connected to the office, school and higher education work-streams.
At that time, the global telco response was fairly universal – Internet connectivity was recognized as a critical utility, and most introduced a series of benefits and initiatives to keep their consumer customers online. Extra mobile data gifts, free TV family entertainment channels and waived bills for the less financially secure were high on the list of typical telco Covid-19 responses at that time, as the immediate reality of residential lockdown unfurled across the globe.
Covid-19 wave 2 is upon us – but will the telco industry react in the same way?
So far, there’s little evidence for it. With European markets now imposing renewed Covid-19 infection spread control restrictions of movement, few telcos have repeated their initial free benefit programs.
What we’re seeing instead is a more tactical set of responses, in which telcos are now looking to leverage the digitalization benefits the global pandemic has catalyzed.
One of the first areas that telcos are looking to promote is Working from Home (WFH). For many enterprises, the first Wave of Covid-19 triggered the necessity to send employees home for a temporary period. Wave 2, however is causing many to consider making WFH a more permanent solution, and with that, the status and value of home broadband services is set to see a significant boost.
Covid has provided opportunities for telcos
Some telcos have already responded to this opportunity to reinvent ‘the household’ as a new target for digital working tools and services. The new hope is that the pandemic may help these telcos find new revenue streams in a sector which has been on a neutral – in some cases negative – growth trajectory for many years.
The crisis is bringing to market a new breed of consumer services. In the UK, BT has launched a second home broadband connection offer – available to both BT and non-BT customers – to test the appetite for a backup solution which is normally reserved for enterprise customers with mission-critical enterprises.
But the innovation isn’t limited entirely to broadband. In Hong Kong, HKBN has put a ‘germ-free’ spin on its smart home portfolio adding a range of new hygiene products including a remote-activated, ceiling-mounted air purifier and quality monitor, a non-contact infrared thermometer a UVC LED light sanitizer and proximity-activated sanitizer spray to the range.
Telcos are also starting to realize that they have an eco-advocacy, and potentially also a consultancy, role to play here, too. In the UK, O2 has recently launched a beta version of its Green Savings Calculator tool, to encourage both large and small enterprises to consider the CO2 emission, energy and office rationalization costs savings implicit in making WFH a permanent arrangement.
For telcos, Covid-19 has created a new sales narrative for the home, and potentially a lever for the sales of a new breed of home working solutions.