Several of the world’s leading finance and technology organizations are calling for more collaboration between the public and private sector in response to COVID-19. Those organizations include the GSMA, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the World Economic Forum, who participated in a virtual roundtable hosted by the World Bank.
At the roundtable, the four organizations emphasized the importance of strong digital infrastructure during the pandemic, noting that essential service providers need reliable networks to support their operations. The widespread transition to remote work environments has also led to a dramatic increase in the overall volume of digital traffic.
With that in mind, the roundtable participants argue that governments and mobile operators should be taking proactive steps to reinforce the existing mobile infrastructure, and to build new infrastructure to make sure they are prepared for future crises. Those measures should ensure that everyone has access to digital services, including those in more marginalized communities.
The organizations then laid out a five-point plan to combat COVID-19 specifically. They suggest that global governments and technology providers should prioritize e-health and telemedicine and support social distancing mandates while providing resilient networks and delivering affordable digital services.
“Governments, regulators and the telecom industry must do all it takes to deploy affordable, reliable, and safe digital technologies,” said World Bank Infrastructure VP Makhtar Diop.
“Thanks to ongoing investments from operators, networks are proving well equipped to handle the unprecedented surge in traffic as more people rely on digital services to work from home and communicate remotely with friends and family,” added GSMA Director General Mats Granryd. “Response to COVID-19 has demonstrated the strategic importance of robust digital infrastructure to the social welfare and the continued functioning of the economy.”
The GSMA is currently accepting applications for the Innovation Fund for Mobile Internet Adoption and Digital Inclusion, which seeks to make digital services more affordable and more accessible for people who are not yet connected. The organization has consistently been at the forefront of the COVID-19 conversation, most notably when it pointed out that there is no correlation between 5G technology and the spread of the pandemic.