An open letter from the ITW Global Leaders’ Forum

01 April 2020 | Marc Halbfinger

Marc Halbfinger

Blog Author |

Cover

The events which are unfolding globally due to the COVID-19 outbreak have demonstrated the criticality of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) infrastructure, including applications, clouds and networks.

The ongoing operation of this infrastructure ensures businesses can continue to operate as entire industries work from home, children and students can continue to receive their education during school closures, and families can remain in contact despite travel restrictions.

Across our networks, we have seen unprecedented and immediately dramatic increases in all forms of traffic, especially in jurisdictions where there have been enforced ‘lock-downs’. The use of conferencing and gaming applications have increased exponentially and internet exchanges have recorded their highest ever data throughputs.

As critical communications infrastructure providers, we are working around the clock, while protecting the safety of our teams, to increase and maintain capacity in our networks. These measures are designed to ensure that the services required – be that critical communications for health, police and emergency workers, conferencing and access to corporate systems for enterprises, or education and entertainment for families – can be delivered without impact and meet ever-increasing demands. We will continue to do so.

Given the criticality of uninterrupted communications in ensuring that societies are able to function throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we call on governments to designate ICT infrastructure, the provision of ICT services and critical infrastructure service providers, as an “essential service”. In jurisdictions where this has already happened, there has been clear operational benefit which enables service continuity while maintaining safety for our colleagues. We recommend that the designation of “essential service” is replicated across all jurisdictions and within all levels of government.

An “essential service” designation is critical so that we can continue to place operational teams into the field to maintain infrastructure; ensure the resilience of networks, clouds, and applications in the face of increasing capacity demands; and, assure customer care channels to serve both the public welfare and the economy.

The members of the ITW Global Leaders’ Forum, a leadership body for international ICT infrastructure providers, are committed to work together as ‘one industry’ delivering critical digital services to ensure that we continue to ‘keep the world connected’ at all times, for all services.

We are committed to:

  • 1. Sharing information on best practices among ICT infrastructure providers to assure
    global interoperability;
  • 2. Proactively support governments, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and international associations who seek to assure the on-going resiliency of international communications infrastructure as capacity demands increase;
  • 3. Share operational resources in the field to facilitate service continuity;
  • 4. Coordinate and deploy additional capacity and applications requirements as jurisdictions may require.

During these challenging times affecting the global population, our mission as an industry has never been clearer – we give our full and continued commitment to all users of connectivity to do whatever it takes to keep the world connected.

With wishes for health and safety,

Marc Halbfinger
Chair ITW Global Leaders’ Forum
On behalf of all ITW GLF members