DoT calls for authorities to permit network maintenance

DoT calls for authorities to permit network maintenance

India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has asked state administrators to ensure adequate maintenance of network equipment as the country seeks to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

In a letter to chief secretaries and advisers for union territories, telecom Secretary Anshu Prakash said: “telecom infrastructure is critical for maintaining communication, use of broadband and internet services, encouraging e-commerce and facilitating work from home during the restrictions period.”

With nearly 30 states enforcing curfews and lockdowns to suppress the spread of the virus, there have been complaints that local authorities have prevented field workers from visiting telecom sites to provide maintenance – particularly in the states of Maharashtra and Punjab, which last week imposed a curfew in order to limit the outbreak.

There have been multiple reports of local authorities demanding that operator staff at network operations centres wind up activity in order to comply with lockdown orders.

Prakash called for state officials to allow for network maintenance, given that telecom services are considered essential due to their role in enabling home working at a time when staff are being advised – or indeed ordered – to stay indoors.

“It will be necessary that instructions reach the field level to permit personnel maintaining and providing telecom services to continue their work without interruption”, noted Prakash.

Operators are reducing some services, with major players Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea all winding down call centres aimed at delivering customer care.

While helplines are still active, staff numbers have been greatly reduced and the operators are requesting subscribers to pursue any issues via their respective mobile apps.

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