Why telcos mustn’t forget the unconnected


August 26, 2020

A focus on new infrastructure investment will also have the potential to bring about change beyond individual homes and offices.

Even before the current global downturn, economies in South East Asia and Africa were starting to see significant growth. Many of them fuelled by their young populations and entrepreneurial spirit have seen the demand for data centres and high-speed access to the internet for a variety of purposes. In many cases the infrastructure, especially between countries and continents has been lacking. This restriction on connectivity has left many people what we might call under-connected, i.e. where they don’t have a fast and reliable connectivity solution. This is restricting growth in some economies as business simply can’t communicate fast enough.

With this in mind telecoms companies must continue to make investments in major infrastructure projects such as sub-sea cables to deliver fast, reliable and affordable connectivity to these developing economies. Improving connectivity between Asia and Africa for example will undoubtedly improve the economic outlook for both continents, making it easy to do business and spawn a whole new generation of data centres, cloud and other services based around this technology. In turn, this growth will help to improve people’s lives by raising living standards and drive further investment into these countries. Populations in these areas are expected to grow significantly over the next 50 years. Developing and investing in the technology now will help to provide jobs and real prospects for this new generation.

But, imagine life without connectivity

An estimated 47% of the world’s population do not have access to the internet or reliable voice connections, that’s almost 4 billion people.

It’s a sad fact, but unfortunately for many people and communities, talk of infrastructure investment is all well and good but it’s highly unlikely that they will be connected anytime soon. For many, they live too remotely, or they simply cannot afford such a luxury. For these people, the work that Télécom Sans Frontières (TSF) does is of vital importance. Making a telephone call, accessing information or services and even watching TV are things many of us take for granted as individuals. We’ve become used to is and cannot imagine life without it.

TSF are the leading organisation to provide connectivity to people all around the world who without their help would often be forgotten. Much of this work can be as part of disaster relief missions, where telephone lines and other infrastructure might have been destroyed by natural disasters or in war zones. Very often TSF are amongst the first ‘boots on the ground’ helping to set up connections which in turn can help other aid agencies perform their missions. They also work with communities in remote areas, helping to bring telephony and data connections which in turn can help doctors and even individuals to make better use of technology.

A responsibility to the unconnected

The telecoms industry has a responsibility to reach out to the unconnected around the world. By providing technical and financial support to charities such as TSF, a real difference is being made. Their work is helping to change lives in a positive way, bringing technology to more people than ever before, improving healthcare and access to services as well as helping people in times of crisis.

It’s clear that further investment in telecoms infrastructure following the current pandemic will assist restarting our global economy and will help us with a new way of working. But this investment must be dovetailed with a commitment to supporting initiatives such as those pioneered by TSF. Not only is it the right thing to do, it will also have a positive impact on millions of individuals, healthcare workers and businesses around the world by providing them with something that the majority of us take for granted.

PCCW Global is a proud supporter of TSF and has been for a number of years, helping to support their crucial missions around the world.

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