Vodafone Idea on Thursday said it is monitoring traffic pattern and remains confident of handling surge in voice and data services demand amid country-wide lockdown to tackle the spread of coronavirus, as the company made an appeal to the telecom department to clear pending applications for spectrum allocation. The telecom company, in an advisory, said it has activated pandemic response plan with risk mitigation protocols while ensuring continuity of mission critical processes, to ensure uptime and smooth running of telecom networks, classified as essential services.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday announced a complete lockdown of the entire country for 21 days in an unprecedented move to try halt the spread of the pandemic shortly after which the Centre said all road, rail and air services will remain suspended during this period.
"We are hopeful that the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) would expedite our spectrum liberalization requests and regularize our backhaul spectrum. The Government realises the critical role of telecom services during this crisis and is taking necessary steps to enable smooth functioning of telecom operations," Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) said.
A comprehensive pandemic response plan with requisite risk mitigation protocols has been activated while ensuring continuity of mission critical processes for keeping VIL networks working, given the essential nature of telecom services.
"Our Business Continuity Plans are being diligently reviewed across all operations. Our flagship Super network operations centre, located in Pune and Hyderabad, is the nerve centre of all 22 circles with centralised monitoring and control of our network, and also ensures business continuity with geo-redundancy," the advisory said.
All enterprise services also continue to be monitored, to ensure business continuity, it added.
"We have set up virtual war rooms where key team members are participating through concalls and video conferencing," it said.
The company is continuously monitoring the traffic pattern and said it is confident of handling the growing demand of voice and data services during the lockdown period.
The infrastructure and technology deployments are substantially helping in managing the traffic spike.
"We are deploying capacities across using all means including addition of COW (Cell on wheels) sites wherever appropriate. We have also requested DoT to clear our pending applications for spectrum allocation," it said.
Assigning highest priority to health and safety of its employees, VIL said while majority of team members have been enabled to work from home, the company is operating certain critical facilities with minimal staff to enable undisrupted services to customers around the clock, as per the government orders of operating essential services.
"We have organised temporary stay arrangement at our data centre locations, made food and groceries available at critical locations and providing vehicle on duty to facilitate movement of technical staff to sites. Our engineers are working in the field with utmost care by following the social distancing protocols," VIL said.
Each field engineer carries three documents – the DoT letter, Personal ID and Employee ID - while vehicles are tagged with “Emergency Telecom Services” stickers, the company said adding that other measures include daily briefings on safety, social distancing to all field and non-field staff, and supply of masks, gloves and sanitizers to drive test and other teams on ground.