Telecoms and Coronavirus

The cancellation of this years MWC is obviously a great shame from the perspective of all the many who have put a lot of effort into its preparation, but also a sensible precaution given the uncertainty surrounding the emergence of the new Coronavirus. The question is: what are we all going to do to minimise the impact on our businesses – and societies overall?

MWC20 – dealing with the MWC that never was

STL Partners normally goes to Barcelona in force and has partnered with the GSMA on MWC for several years. Our sincere commiserations to our friends in the team at the GSMA who put so much effort in to make the show a success. We will miss it but look forward to the bigger, better MWC 2021.

Some of our team are still planning to go and work in Barcelona for a week as we have flights and accommodation booked. So if any of you are doing the same, let us know and maybe we can meet?

Otherwise, we’ll be trying to make good use of the time to keep working on our research and other projects. One thing we’ll miss is all those catch up meetings and opportunities to meet new people and learn new things, so we’ll be busy trying to schedule calls and video catch ups with everyone – do drop us a line.

The bigger picture: what can we do?

More broadly, we believe that the telecoms industry can be a positive force in helping society and the global economy develop in the face of global threats like Coronavirus, and the growing demand to manage international travel.

We’ve recently learned some great new words. In Swedish, tagskryt means ‘train bragging’ – boasting you’ve taken a more eco-friendly train ride than your colleagues who took the plane, and are correspondingly suffering from flygskam – ‘flight shame’.

These trends won’t go away, though actually meeting people won’t go out of fashion either. We are all biological creatures of the physical world, and we build trust on relationships in the real world.

And in our crowded, highly mobile and dynamic world we can’t and shouldn’t avoid people either, although when highly contagious viruses may be lurking, discretion and careful hygiene are both individually sensible and societally responsible.

Telecoms companies can do a lot to help. Telecom’s core product is communication at a distance, and we need to make the applications that enable this as effective as possible.

Beyond that though, there is a lot more that telcos can do. It’s all part of what we refer to as the Coordination Age – enabling outcomes that make the best use of customers’ available resources.

Healthcare is a huge area that can be vastly improved by the better use of technology. As well as its societal importance, healthcare comprises over 10% of every nation’s GDP, so it’s hugely valuable in every sense. Telcos can plan a significant role in this at many different levels, and this is another area we are looking at in depth.

Stay connected

Telecoms is already helping to deliver huge benefits in the face of the virus. One huge difference is that the available knowledge is being shared so widely and so fast due to the instantaneous connectivity available today. The transparency this brings, and the agency it grants to people around the world to make choices will already have saved many lives.

We believe the industry’s role should be to try to do more, and our purpose is to enable that.

So stay safe, and stay in touch.

And if your company is helping to manage the Coronavirus situation, we’d be fascinated to learn how (if and when you have the time).

Author: Andrew Collinson, Partner and Director

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