Coronavirus: how are mobile networks helping?

Mobile network operators are playing a vital role in managing the coronavirus crisis, including updating citizens and enabling employees to work remotely.

With the sudden growth in home working, mobile networks have had to adjust to different usage patterns. Scott Petty, Vodafone UK’s CTO, explained that reports that its network will not cope with the increase in voice and data traffic is “categorically untrue”. He said, “We’ve been adding more capacity and changing the way we manage voice and data traffic across our complex network of fibre optic cables, copper wires, base stations, exchanges, masts and antennae.”

On Tuesday, mobile networks – including Vodafone, EE, O2 and Three – sent advice to their customers on behalf of the UK government. The UK trialled a citizen emergency alert system seven years ago, but it was never put into practice.

The message contained details of the new shutdown measures. It read: “GOV.UK CORONAVIRUS ALERT. New rules in force now: you must stay at home. More info and exemptions at Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”

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