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As lockdown continues…Telecoms Chamber urge prudent use of data, talk-time

BY: Maxwell Akalaare Adombila
 Dr Kenneth Ashigbey, CEO Telecoms Chamber
Dr Kenneth Ashigbey, CEO Telecoms Chamber

Telecommunication companies (telcos) in the country are not excited that many people are consuming more talk-time and data now than they used to, resulting in the recent upsurge in consumption figures.

The firms fear that the increased consumption will exert extreme pressure on their systems and create congestions and other network-related challenges that could require the companies to import parts from abroad to fix.

But with the novel Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic making it difficult for businesses to import, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (Telecoms Chamber), Dr Kenneth Ashigbey, told the Daily Graphic on April 1 that resolving such challenges with imported logistics would be difficult, hence the need for “prudent use of data and talk-time.”

The Telecoms Chamber is an advocacy body for the telcos and related service providers.

Disposable income

Its CEO said the prudent use of telecom services was needed to help reduce the burden that the exponential usage posed to the networks at a time when the global logistics business had virtually been grounded by the raging COVID-19.

Consequently, Dr Ashigbey said the chamber was urging consumers to be “fair, responsible and rational” in their use of telecommunications networks and the internet, in the course of the coronavirus crisis.

He said the chamber also feared that the increased usage of the companies’ services could soon plummet when the impact of the ongoing lockdown on people’s disposable incomes start to bite – when people will no longer have enough money to spare on non-critical expenditures, including talk-time and data.

The CEO said the Telcoms Chamber had launched a campaign to help sensitise consumers to responsible and prudent use of data and talk-time.

The campaign started on April 2 and came at a time when the ongoing lockdown of Accra, Tema and Kumasi and their environs had forced most people to turn to their mobile phones and other devices as temporary substitutes to the known human companionships.

Increment

The Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana, Mr Selorm Adadevoh, said on March 24 that data usage on their network had increased by around 20 per cent, owing largely to the COVID-19 spread, which has forced most people to work online.

The CEO of the Telcoms Chamber said while that development was good for the industry, his outfit was more concerned about the general sustenance of the businesses hence the need to limit how much of telecom services people used and for what purposes.

“In the short term, it will seem as if people are demanding it but the power to purchase is not inelastic; it will weaken at a point because people will not be able to buy the data,” he said.
This, he said informed the decision to launch a campaign to sensitise people to responsible usage of the services.

10 Commandments

In a press release dubbed ‘mobile industry recommendation on fair use of Internet & telecommunication during covid-19 crisis’ and issued on April 2, the chamber said the campaign was informed by the need to ensure the optimum and seamless operation of telecommunications and emergency services during the crisis period, during which usage of voice, data and mobile financial services had increased.

Christened ‘the industry’s ’10 commandments,’ the chamber advised users to observe 10 rules which it believed would help to preserve and maintain the resilience of the networks during the crisis period.

The advice include avoid the use of online entertainment services during digital traffic rush-hours (from 09:00 am to 6:00 pm), prefer landline networks instead of cellular networks, avoid sending large digital files, avoid sending bulk emails and avoid unnecessary video calls, not only during rush hours but also at all times.

It also advised users to take advantage of collaborative teamwork platforms and technologies, only download to your computer the files necessary and prefer to send a link to the file’s location as opposed to attaching the file itself, keep electronic devices up-to-date with the latest versions of their software, avoid letting children use streaming video platforms and social networks, and instead prompt them towards more creative, hands-on tasks and adopt responsible internet etiquette.

Dr Ashigeby said these ‘commandments’ were meant to help consumers understand that their consumption of data and talk-time was dependent on their ability to purchase and with the raging COVID-19 impacting negatively on people’s incomes, their incomes needed to be protected to help increase their purchasing power.