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Communication in extraordinary conditions, rationality will lead to more availability and higher quality

The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way of life and work, and everyday activities are largely performed online. Operators are registering an increased level of internet traffic, stating that the networks are stable and capacities are increased depending on demand.

Skopje, 3 April 2020 (MIA) – The COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the way of life and work, and everyday activities are largely performed online. Operators are registering an increased level of internet traffic, stating that the networks are stable and capacities are increased depending on demand.

They appeal that telecommunication services are to be used rationally in order for them to be available at any time, with no changes in quality.

Makedonski Telekom reports a significant increase in mobile and fixed internet traffic, but the network remains stable.

“The epidemic changed our ways of life, work, and everyday functioning. The main communication channels for personal and business purposes are digital, which causes a significant increase in the Makedonski Telekom traffic, particularly in mobile and fixed internet-traffic. Nevertheless, despite the increased demand, the network is stable,” the company tells MIA.

Makedonski Telekom, it notes, takes additional measures to strengthen and increase network capacity to satisfy user needs. “Maintaining flawless infrastructure and internet access remains our top priority. Therefore, all our resources, both human and technical, are going towards securing uninterrupted communication in such extraordinary conditions.”

A1 Macedonia also says that, in such times of crisis, all necessary measures are being taken in order to secure that the telecommunications network works in a safe and stable way, and to maintain continuity in key telecommunication services.

“We’re noting an increase in call traffic and in internet traffic, which is significantly higher than usual at certain points of the day, which is a result of the consumers’ adapting to staying home and working from home in accordance with the coronavirus protective measures.”

That’s why A1 Macedonia, it says in a statement, has enabled the A1 Solidarity Package which gives 10 GB of free mobile internet for all users which will activate it through the Mojot A1 (My A1) mobile app, as well as an increased number of TV channels with no additional charge for all TV service users.

In order to secure maximum availability of the services, the company has activated its internal crisis HQ in addition to its existing center for operational tracking and maintaining critical infrastructure and services.

“Detailed scenarios have been made to secure work continuity and securing services in times of crisis and a state of emergency in the country. Our technical experts are always monitoring network capacities and are prepared to react with appropriate technical measures to secure network integrity in case there is extremely high traffic or other technical difficulties,” A1 states.

In a state of emergency, when responsibility is needed in every aspect, they appeal to users to use telecommunication services rationally in order for them to always be available and to always have the same quality.

The Agency for Electronic Communication has legal jurisdiction over enforcing minimal quality of electronic communication services, defined in the users’ subscription contracts. If a state of emergency is declared, the Law on Electronic Communication assigns jurisdiction to the Ministry of Information Society and Administration.

“If new circumstances in certain areas of the countries cause changes in the everyday work of the operator’s network, such as, overloading some base stations, the operator can take measures to reshape traffic in order to avoid the network connection overload. They can set up optic cables to connect base stations, or set up new temporary base stations for which they’ll require additional radiofrequencies. Assigning radiofrequencies is the Agency for Electronic Communication’s job, and the request for getting new radiofrequencies should be justified,” the MISA says.

In case of a state of emergency, which has been declared in North Macedonia, the minister of Information Society and Administration is in charge of things determined by the Law on Electronic Communication in relation to the work of public electronic communication networks and securing public electronic communication services.

Article 64, Paragraphs 2 and 3 of the Law on Electronic Communication stipulates that public electronic communication networks and accessories must be planned, projected, built and set up in a way that will enable prioritizing communications from certain access points before other communications in case of a network drop, martial law, state of emergency or natural disaster. The government of North Macedonia assigns the groups of users with priority network endpoints.

In addition, the Law also stipulates that public electronic communication networks and accessories must be planned, projected, built and set up in a way that will enable a state organ or body, by request, to transmit messages and notifications in case of martial law or threatening of the independence and sovereignty of North Macedonia without compensation, as well as in cases of big natural disasters, technical and ecological disasters and epidemics, when the people’s lives and health are in danger alongside the country’s safety.

The MISA has determined a contact-person to communicate with the operators if certain acts are enacted in accordance with the Law on Electronic Communication.

In North Macedonia, based on the latest research by the Agency for Electronic Communication, almost 90% of the population uses the internet, and only half of them use antivirus programs to protect their privacy.

In order to avoid internet traffic congestions, YouTube recently announced that they would reduce video quality in the EU and UK. Netflix has also announced a 25% reduction in quality.

Lidija Velkovska

Translator: Dragana Knežević

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