Bahrain: How important is the telecoms sector during the pandemic?

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The coronavirus pandemic has revealed our reliance on the telecommunications industry. Precautionary guidelines, lockdowns and social distancing measures have demonstrated the extent of our dependence on connectivity – with the majority of residents using the networks to study, work and play from home.

Telecoms operators have never been more necessary than they are today; connecting communities while keeping businesses and educational institutions logged on. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) announced that there is a growth of usage in social media and video streaming applications since January to mid-April 2020 of this year.

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In Bahrain, operators have responded to the pandemic with a sense of urgency and empathy – some enabling unlimited data usage while others giving away free subscription for a limited time.

On a similar note, TRA has supported the national initiatives in combatting COVID-19, circulating guidelines issued by the Health Ministry to all the operators.

The ongoing shift to remote work drives the demand for a fast and secure connectivity. However, this demand could also make and break the telecoms industry if the services provided don’t meet the consumers’ expectations.

According to TRA, there is an 89% increase in disputes in 2019: 60% are of mobile services, 24% are of broadband services, 11% are fixed line services and the remaining 5% are for other complaints. Over 31,000 calls have been received by the regulatory authority’s consumer call center.

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The telecommunications industry has been connecting individuals and businesses for almost two centuries – even during a number of crisis. The current situation is no different. Thus, telecoms providers should protect the people’s interest by providing better solutions and services as the ‘new normal’ emerges. This is the way forward.

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