Puerto Rico’s telecommunications industry is ready to operate at its “maximum capacity,” taking the necessary measures to preserve the health and safety of its customers and employees, Felipe Hernández, president of the Puerto Rican Telecommunications Alliance said.
The executive stressed that the sector is “not only important for consumers, but is also a fundamental pillar to revive the island’s economy, which has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“Citizens need to be able to access technological equipment and internet, television and telephone services, so the government must allow us to continue expanding services in a gradual and controlled manner to serve more people,” said Hernández.
The Puerto Rican Telecommunications Alliance comprises internet, television and telephony providers, namely: Aeronet; Claro; Data Access; Liberty Puerto Rico; Neptuno; Optivon; VPNet; and, WorldNet.
Despite all the self-management tools and services provided by phone, there is a need to expand face-to-face channels as there are thousands of people who lack mobile or fixed internet, or simply do not have a bank account, said Hernández.
“Our industry has a duty and responsibility to keep the island connected, especially in times of national emergencies,” he said.
“Other important economic sectors, such as banking, hospitals, education, the food industry, fuel, and essential electricity and water services, depend on the operation of telecommunication systems to continue operating and serving the island,” he said.
Since the social distancing provision began on Mar. 16, there has been a double-digit increase in mobile data traffic from 25% to 30% and of 30% in fixed services, which shows the importance of connectivity, he said.
To manage demand, companies have made capital investments in networks capacity and improvements, allowing services to continue to run properly and many people and businesses to continue studying and working from homes.
Hernández stressed the fact that the telecom industry has protocols to preserve the health and safety of its employees and customers, “but that the private sector’s effort must go hand-in-hand with the government’s, to carry out more tests, so it can make reliable projections and develop action plans.”