Digital minister confident networks will remain ‘resilient’ as citizens work from home and box-set binge

Written by Sam Trendall on 25 March 2020 in News
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Matt Warman claims government is working with industry to monitor traffic in real time

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The minister for digital infrastructure has claimed that government has been reassured that the UK’s telecoms and broadband networks will remain “resilient” as millions of citizens work from home and increase usage of online entertainment platforms.
 
Matt Warman said that, with the UK now in lockdown and swathes of the population remaining at home, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport is working with the telecoms sector and industry regulator Ofcom “to closely monitor the changes in the level of traffic” on phone, broadband, and mobile networks. This monitoring is taking place “in real time”, he claimed.
 
The minister said: “The sector to date has provided reassurance that broadband and mobile capacity will remain resilient in the event of large numbers working from home and usage for leisure.”


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In addition to monitoring networks’ traffic, Warman said his department – alongside Ofcom and telecoms firms themselves – is also keeping a close eye on the efficacy of communications companies’ continuity plans.
 
“The industry has well-established business continuity arrangements to ensure that the sector remains resilient,” he said. “DCMS is working with the industry and Ofcom to closely monitor such arrangements.”
 
With all those that can work from home having been strongly urged to do so by the government, and citizens also advised to leave the house only for daily exercise and to buy essential provisions, millions will now be relying on consumer broadband networks to perform their job. The huge increase in hours spent indoors is also sure to put further strain on networks as people use the enforced time at home to watch films and television series on streaming services, play online games, or connect with friends and family via video calls.
 
Warman’s comments were respectively made in answer to written parliamentary questions from Labour MPs Chi Onwurah and Fleur Anderson.

His remarks came shortly ahead of Ofcom teaming up with government and industry to launch the Stay Connected campaign, which aims to provide the public with advice on how to ensure they are able to maintain adequate levels of connectivity and reception over the coming weeks.

The regulator kicked off the campaign today by publishing seven key tips, including making voice calls on landlines or over WiFi and using wired connections where possible.

Ofcom chief executive Melanie Dawes said: “Families across the country are going online together this week, often juggling work and keeping children busy at the same time. So, we’re encouraging people to read our advice on getting the most from their broadband, home phones and mobiles – and to share it with friends, families and colleagues, to help them stay connected too.”

DCMS secretary of state Oliver Dowden added: “Right now we need people to stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives. Reliable internet speeds will be crucial so we can work from home where possible, stay connected with our families and keep up to date with the latest health information. I urge everyone to read Ofcom’s helpful tips and advice to ensure they get the most out of their broadband and mobile internet connections during these unprecedented times."

 

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Sam Trendall is editor PublicTechnology

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