On the front line: Keeping Mexico and Central America connected
As COVID-19 makes its way through Latin America, data usage has been changing in the region. Each country is responding differently to the pandemic. Costa Rica declared a national emergency on March 16th and has seen a 21 percent increase in 4G LTE data traffic, while El Salvador, also in a state of emergency, has had a 50 percent increase in 3G data traffic. Mexico, the largest country of the region, has seen a 4 percent increase in VoLTE calls and an overall 35 percent increase in the duration of voice calls.
Ericsson has been quick to react and ensure that network operators in each country can offer connectivity in such a critical moment.
“If any of my customers’ sites goes out of service or there is nobody to take care of a problem, we’d be talking about thousands of people being not communicating via mobile or fixed networks. In these COVID-19 times, I think it is very important, too important, to stay connected.”
- John Alexander Conde, Field Services Manager, Ericsson
John is originally from Colombia but works in Guatemala, where he’s been posted for the past four years. His job is to supervise the crews in charge of corrective and preventive maintenance required by their customers, including Claro, in addition to going out and solving issues that require a more specialized support.
It hasn’t been easy for the team that John has to manage on the sites. “Those going to the sites are basically fighting a battle,” Conde says. “We put on our armors, which are our personal protective equipment (PPE): our gloves, our masks, and our disinfectants. We go out and we have to explain to the police officers that stop us that we work in telecom; that a site is out of service; that if we don’t fix it everyone will lose communication. But I take it almost as a social duty. Even though we’re restricted, we need to get to where it is needed.”
Henry Quiros, Field Services Operations Support in Costa Rica, is experiencing something similar. He manages about 110 people, and on any given day he works to ensure that all of them are working under the strictest security guidelines. During the pandemic, that includes providing hygiene kits additional to their regular security gear.
This is not the first time his team has faced dire circumstances, as the country is prone to frequent hurricanes and earthquakes. “A natural disaster is very different to what we’re seeing today,” Henry says.
“Things will be different after this, because we will need to adapt the way we socialize and work together on site. It is impossible to keep a distance in some cases, but we’ll figure out how to do it.”
- Henry Quiros, Field Services Operations Support
Teamwork has proven to be key for both John and Henry in enabling them to keep performing their important duties. “I want to thank all of our teammates because without their effort in each of their job roles, we couldn’t do ours,” Henry mentions. “It all comes down to being able to serve from our allocated roles. It’s a silent job, but it’s essential.”