Working Remotely in the Face of COVID-19: Nigerian Internet Service Providers Need to Cut Data Cost

Working Remotely in the Face of COVID-19: Nigerian Internet Service Providers Need to Cut Data Cost

As the coronavirus pandemic forces businesses to close and people to stay at home, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made a 60-day Keep Americans Connected Pledge. The pledge asks internet providers not cut off businesses from service, especially residential and small business customers.

The pledge also asks internet service providers to waive late fees accumulated due to the pandemic, and provide open access public Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them. Internet providers are urged to suspend data caps and fees for long-distance calls.

In response to this pledge, internet service providers have started offering subscribers and businesses internet service deals that will help get through the tough time.

Verizon has announced that it is automatically adding 15GB of high-speed data to the wireless plans of subscribers. The company also said it will waive overage charges and late fees for everyone affected by coronavirus. In addition, internet and voice service for those on the company’s discount Lifeline plan will be waived.

“We understand the hardships that many of our customers are facing, and we’re doing our part to ensure they have broadband internet connectivity during this unprecedented time. With so many Americans working and learning remotely from home, having access to reliable and affordable internet is more important than ever before,” said Ronan Dunne Verizon Consumer Group CEO.

In effort to make the remote work experience easier, Verizon will be adding 15GB to consumer and small business customers with metered data plans. And it can be used for hotspot, smartphone, or other devices. On the other hand, Verizon unlimited customers will get additional 15GB of 4G LTE hotspot data.

T-Mobile has also announced that it is removing mobile data caps and will give customers 20GB more which is hotspot and tethering enabled. AT&T does not follow the exact steps of Verizon and T-Mobile but said it will waive domestic wireless plan overage charges for data.

Comcast announced that it is suspending its data cap policy for 60 days and waiving overage fees for home internet customers.

As the stay-at-home clamor intensifies in Nigeria, civil servants have been asked in most states of the country to work remotely while corporations are also asking their staff to do the same.

The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) announced on Monday that the staff will work from home as a measure to curb the spread of the outbreak.

“Earlier today, we activated a remote working plan for our employees excluding essential staff effective March 24, 2020; and the temporary closure of all our trading floors effective March 25, 2020, for a period of 30 days.

“While we have taken precautionary measures through thermal checks for all entrants; provision of sanitizers; and minimized access into our premises, the situation has, however, escalated. We must act in the best interest of our stakeholders and our society.”

In the face of imminent shutdown that will see offices closed, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) is yet to initiate any pledge on internet usage that will make remote work affordable, and internet service providers are maintaining the status quo that subscribers have always complained of its exorbitance.

Compared to many other countries, the cost of internet services is high in Nigeria, and it has always been a serious financial consideration of every business with the need of internet service in the country. The data gets wiped off before its due date of expiration, even when the subscriber is on unlimited plan.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, companies have learnt how to save data and cut costs. Many switched it on only when it is necessary and turned it off as soon as they are done. But that was then, when there was still such a choice. In a time of crisis when the survival of businesses is lying on probabilities and governments all over the world are doing what they can to salvage the economy, the sustenance of every business counts.

While big corporations can afford to fund the high cost of data, SMEs that are currently the bedrock of Nigeria’s economy will struggle to cope. Therefore, the NCC has been called upon to imitate the FCC and make a pledge that will spur telecommunication companies and data service providers in Nigeria to facilitate cost-effective data services that will help businesses to stay virtually operational.

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