Hughes maintains network connectivity

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Coronavirus outbreak has put millions under lockdown and forced corporates to embrace remote work practices. Shivaji Chatterjee, Business Head, Enterprise Business, Hughes Communications India Limited shares how the company is trying to provide the best possible network experience during these testing times. Excerpts:

Please tell us about the initiatives taken by your company for business continuity while ensuring employee well-being during these challenging times?

Amidst the Covid-19 epidemic on one side and providing connectivity to essential national services of India, we are in a responsible position to deliver our services and help our customers to succeed and make use of complete digital technology. Our proactive approach of remote access drills for operation network maintenance in past has helped us to manage work desk at home. With limited presence of our engineers in the Hub facility our battalion of Engineers are tirelessly managing response to all customer calls and monitoring the sites uptime by accessing the internal CRMs and network monitoring sites. Availability of domain Laptops with Support staff is helping in managing the workflows and approvals. Representation to the local district government offices has helped and provided us the essential curfew passes for movement of limited number of Engineers in few areas. While maintenance mode is running well, the work has slowed down in new rollouts due to supply chain logistics, halt in production by backward integrated OEMs, service providers. It is remarkable that our Employees and partners are fully cooperating towards the call of duty.

What steps have you taken to ensure Work from Home? How are you ensuring collaboration amongst internal teams?

We are all in this situation of change and are at personal anguish considering the moments of worry to end and normalcy to come back – following measures of work connectivity have been adopted while we manage work from home.

  • Our IT team has provided access to Google Enterprise Suite which enables all users to utilize audio- video conferencing facility, construct and use chat rooms, maintain work records, collaborate using google sheets, word documents etc.
  • Our Operation tools like PromonSys, MARS customer dashboard continue to provide updated information to teams and AI based programs are updating the analytics and providing updates to users.
  • Applications like Google hangouts, MS teams, “VPN connectivity /Citrix log in” is helping us manage work desk at home and provide global support.
  • Besides, review calls with individual teams and SLA teams proactively ensuring partner resources are constructively busy and are utilizing work time by contributing to business.

What initiatives have you taken for smooth customer experience?

As half the world has been locked down by the pandemic, people are facing issues at their end to maintain connectivity. We, at Hughes are working hard to ensure that our customers are satisfied and does not face such issues amid these testing times. Fortunately, there are now a huge variety of tools and services available which we are leveraging at best for our customers.

To protect our ability to install and repair equipment and service our customers:

  • We are working with our local field service partners to ensure their personnel policies are consistent with ours and other applicable guidelines. That they have appropriate contingency plans should any of their installers/repair persons become ill with the virus.
  • We have redundancies built into our customer care centres and help desks, with operations across multiple locations. Our CRM system is automated and accessible to our customers and service partners from anywhere in the country over internet, thereby ensuring that the down calls get attended to.
  • All our NOC locations and critical networks are accessible from multiple locations spread across the country.
  • We have contingency plans in place for remote teleworking should the need arise. Network Engineering personnel all have remote access to critical systems to ensure continuity.
  • During these unusual times, we will continue to re-evaluate our mitigation measures and business continuity plans.

What would you define as key lessons from this crisis?

There has been a sudden surge in network usage which is putting burden on Mobile Network Operators (MNO) to augment capacity and provide relief from network congestion. Data demand has recorded a 10% surge as people are opting for remote workplaces.  Being a Managed Service provider, we are in the business of connectivity ourselves. So, we are always prepared, up and running with 99.9% uptime– with our core network facing no network outages with multiple redundancies across geographies in place. This also helps in keeping customers who have had to WFH, free from worry about their business-critical applications. On the field support, it’s true that we are unable to work with the same efficiency as in normal conditions. Movement of our field teams is restricted, we are making up for this by online analytics and support, pinpointing the exact issues, but there are some delays.

In your view, what will be the impact of the pandemic on the overall business scenario and especially on your segment? What is your strategy to tackle the economic slowdown?

Across India and the world, the widespread panic of the Coronavirus outbreak has put millions under lockdown and forced Corporates to embrace remote work practices. We have to wait and see the total business impact in the coming quarters. The focus right now is to best use the network so as to provide the best possible network experience to our users to help them work with critical business applications