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Can Digi and Smart rebound from COVID-19?

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Posted: Monday, May 11, 2020. 4:03 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: A report released this week discusses the long-term forecast for the survival of Belize’s telecoms industry after more than a decade of upheaval.

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is expected to significantly impact both sides of the telecom sector, according to a report titled “Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband – Statistics and Analyses.”

The report notes that the COVID-19 pandemic, as it has on many other industries, is expected to significantly impact production and supply chains worldwide. Production of mobile phones may experience a downturn, while network operators face difficulty managing work flow and maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure.

The fifth generation of technology standard for cellular networks (5G), which cellular phone companies began deploying worldwide in 2019, the planned successor to the 4G networks which provide connectivity to most current cellphones. 5G has been erroneously described by some as contributing to the fast spread of COVID-19.

Consumers may choose to spend less on telecom services and devices due to job losses and restriction on disposable income, but this should be offset by continued use of telecoms for general communication and working from home.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Among Belize’s key developments are the resolution of the imbroglio between Government and Digi/BTL’s former owners, expansions in fibre optic and cable networks, LTE, the migration to mobile phone subscriptions from landlines and others.

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