ITU launches REG4COVID Platform to aid telecommunication during the COVID-19 crisis.

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This article was originally published on the ITU’s website on 23rd March 2020, and states that the platform is created to assist governments and the private sector ensure that networks are kept resilient and telecommunication services are available to all.

On this platform there will be shared experiences, ongoing initiatives, and innovative policy and regulatory measures designed to help ensure communities remain connected; so that we support one another; and that we harness the full power and potential of ICTs to save lives.

The ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao’s statement on the launch is as follows:

Geneva, 23 March 2020

Never before have telecommunication networks been so vital to our health and safety, and to keep our economy and society working, as during the COVID-19 crisis we are living through today. As a result, I have instructed my team to leverage without any delay ITU’s existing regulatory and policy-maker platform to help countries and industry cope with the increasing stress being put on global networks.

At stake is our ability, as one human family, to give health workers everywhere the tools they need to carry out their duties; to allow all those that can to work from home, to trade online; to ensure that hundreds of millions of children and young people keep up with their studies; and to keep in touch with loved ones wherever they are.

The platform ITU is launching today aims to assist national policymakers, regulators and industry stakeholders ensure that networks are kept resilient and telecommunication services are available to all – to the maximum extent possible – by sharing best practices and initiatives put in place during the COVID-19 crisis. It will collect relevant and trustworthy information and expertise on actions that telecommunication policymakers, regulators and others in the regulatory community can use to ensure that their telecommunication networks and services serve the needs of their country.

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This new ITU platform will provide countries struggling to find appropriate solutions to ensure their networks’ resiliency with relevant and trustworthy information and expertise on how to cope with the stresses faced by their infrastructure. And because time is of the essence, it will give those countries that still have time to prepare an opportunity to learn from what is being done elsewhere – from emergency spectrum reassignments to guidelines for consumers on responsible use. Serving initially as an informative tool, the Global Network Resiliency Platform will soon be expanded to provide an interactive and engaging platform for continuous sharing throughout this crisis and beyond.

The crisis we are in today calls for solidarity.

In these uncertain times, we should not forget all those around the world who still lack access to the Internet. As the United Nations specialised agency for information and communication technologies, ITU has long advocated for universal, reliable and affordable connectivity; and we will continue to push on all these fronts until everyone is connected.

I call on all ITU members, from the public and private sectors alike, to come together and build the best platform we can – so that information and communication technology can help defeat COVID-19 and make us safer, stronger and more connected.

Some of the shared initiatives are as follows:

These initiatives published on the platform have been divided into:

  • From Telecom/ICT Policymakers & Regulators
    • UKE Polandasks telecommunications operators to take the necessary actions to guarantee service continuity by preventing network congestion resulting from increased demand during the COVID-19 outbreak
    • MITIC Paraguaydigital service providers in Paraguay: Copaco, Vox, Tigo, Claro and Personal to provide two free services for their users as a response measure to the COVID-19 crisis.
    • ICASA South ​Africa​​engages with licencees to open their services to all South Africans as the country fights the COVID-19 pandemic sco​
  • From Telecom/ICT Operators & Service Providers
    • ​​GSMA​:China Maintains 5G Leadership role in the face of COVID-19​​ – Mobile operators launched commercial 5G services last year, diversifying their offerings for both consumer and enterprise customers.
    • Bolivia ENTELnational state-owned service provider is now offering low-tariff combos in view of the COVID-19 emergency
    • Vodafone​launches five-point plan to help counter the impacts of COVID-19 outbreak, maintaining ​Q​oS, providing network capacity, facilitating working from home, and improving governments’ insights into people’s movements in affected areas.
  • From Technical Community & Civil Society
  • From International & Regional Organisations
    • The European Commissionis coordinating a common European response to the outbreak of COVID-19.
    • African Telecommunications Union calls for harmonised action by telecommunications regulators and operators in Africa to combat COVID-19 p​
    • UNESCO: COVID-19 Educational Disruption and Response – immediate support to countries as they work to minimise the educational disruption and facilitate the continuity of learning, especially for the most vulnerable.​
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I agree with ITU that everyone is seeking digital strategies as we fight the Covid-19 crisis: staying at home from our work, schools, markets etc. Just as is happening in the world, Ghanaians are also looking for telecommunication network players to offer some initiatives as we stay home to stop spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).​​​​​​​​​​

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