COVID-19 IMPACTInterviewsTelecom

COVID-19 Impact: Etisalat Rolls Out New Initiatives to Weather Challenges Faced During This Time

Dr Ahmed Bin Ali, the Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications at Etisalat Group, speaks about the initiatives the company has started to help companies and individuals weather the challenges put forth by the COVID-19 pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Etisalat, one of the largest telecom service providers in the region, has started new initiatives to help various industry sectors weather the challenges faced.

Educational Sector
For the education sector, Etisalat has enabled at least one million students in the UAE for free access of distance learning websites and platforms using its advanced network. More than 10 million Etisalat mobile subscribers enjoying free browsing to over 800 websites related to education, health and safety.

Free mobile data was made available, in coordination with the Ministry of Education and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), to over 12,000 students whose families do not have Internet at home to support and enable distance learning. Etisalat also provided access to 9 apps and platforms for distance learning, allowing visual and audio communications: Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Blackboard, Zoom, Skype for Business, Cisco Webex, Avaya Spaces, BlueJeans and Slack on its fixed and mobile network in collaboration with the TRA.

Health & Safety
For this sector, Etisalat has allocated extra network resources and services. The company is also providing connectivity to quarantined and other critical areas in the health sector.

Etisalat has ensured maximum sterilisation, health and safety procedures for Etisalat’s employees and technical teams during the provision of services and Internet installations for homes, businesses and government entities. It also conducted Stay-At-Home awareness campaign across multiple channels (SMS, network ID, ring tones and social media).

Business Continuity
Etisalat contributions to business continuity covered various sectors of the industry. Complete network and resource deployment were made through multiple initiatives. The company introduced new applications and services to government entities and departments to ensure seamless business continuity during work from home period.

It is also monitoring the performance of basic applications and ensuring smooth access to data locally and internationally. It has established command centres equipped with advanced tools to monitor the performance of services provided to government departments, businesses and customers 24/7.

Etisalat’s CloudTalk Meeting allows virtual meetings and felicitates work from home. CloudTalk Meeting enables 50 concurrent participants to join an online meeting and discussion, with a moderator feature. The SMB segment was supported by a comprehensive platform from Etisalat, ‘Business Edge’ was launched to offer a wide range of services and solutions that cater to Small and Medium Business (SMB) customers.

Collaboration and communication from Business Edge enables SMBs to connect to customers in a secure and scalable way, allowing employees and customers to talk, video-conference and share documents, using Etisalat’s ultramodern, cloud-based unified communications service.

Business Edge not only provides smart internet connectivity but also secures a customer’s office environment by offering next generation cloud firewall, advanced endpoint security for PCs and Android devices and cloud-based video surveillance. Businesses can avail the online collaborations platforms through Etisalat such as: Microsoft Teams, Blackboard, Zoom, Skype for Business.

eLife and Entertainment
Existing elife TV and internet bundle (triple play) customers who chose to move to a new eLife unlimited plan will receive the upgraded benefits at no extra charge for three months. The eLife Unlimited plans offer speeds from an incredible 250Mbps more than enough to work-from home and keep everyone streaming their favourite content.

Subscribers also have the option to downgrade back to their old plan if they wish for no penalty during this time. eLife viewers will be kept entertained with free on demand movies each week for the next six weeks. Free StarzPlay for three months with the latest Arabic, Western TV series and movies simply by subscribing on-screen.

Premium add-on pack from “Arabia, Western, Asian or Pinoy” for free for three months. One month of free access to OSN’s El Farq package containing some of the biggest names in entertainment. SwitchTV with 3 months free access to premium content such as movies, live TV and on demand movies. The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store, Google Play or the new Huawei App Gallery and is available to all UAE residents regardless of provider.

International Remittance Services to 200 Countries
eWallet customers can now make international money transfers in real-time at the most competitive rates free of charge from the safety of their homes, avoiding queues or visiting a public place. Money transfers can now be digitally made to over 350,000 locations consisting of banks, over the counter agents, and international mobile wallet operators in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. The offer is for a limited period only.

eWallet customers, depending on the destination, will have the option to send funds either directly to a recipient’s bank account or to a mobile wallet. Regulated and licensed by the Central Bank of the UAE, eWallet is a revolutionary digital payment service aimed at empowering the UAE residents with safe, convenient and flexible payment solutions through an easy-to-use mobile app.

Operations and Maintenance
Etisalat deployed all efforts to make their technical teams available across all locations to effectively manage the operation and maintenance process. Etisalat has implemented a group of technical procedures to maintain the highest quality in services provided, and to ensure that all subscribers and customers are connected during this unprecedented time:

The company doubled the number of technical teams, in order to cater for internet subscription and upgrade at homes around the clock. It allocated extra working hours for technical teams to ensure quick response to service requests. Dedicated teams were deployed for maintenance across all critical sites and stations.

Remote Customer Care
Etisalat is encouraging consumers and businesses to utilise mobile and online services including ‘My Etisalat UAE’ app, Etisalat business mobile apps and business portals. With the ‘My Etisalat UAE’ app, customers have a 24/7 access to make payments in a safe and secure manner connecting instantly using live chat. The app enables access to bills and payments, share credit and data, check usage and shop.

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Chris Fernando

Chris N. Fernando is an experienced media professional with over two decades of journalistic experience. He is the Editor of Arabian Reseller magazine, the authoritative guide to the regional IT industry. Follow him on Twitter (@chris508) and Instagram (@chris2508).

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