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In March, we saw an unavoidable focus on COVID-19, but we also saw something else: planet-wide changes in everyday life. Often, the changes have created demand for ICT to fill a massive gap in human activity.

Understandably, for many, the immediate focus has been remote working and its impact. Major service providers certainly report increased demand. But there were wider questions. Should ICT vendors double down on relationship marketing to small- and medium-sized customers and do well by doing good? Should we focus on resilience in the supply chain as a must-have, not just now but into the future too? How important is consumer support? There was refreshing news on the willingness of service providers to help.

But a bigger picture also exists. Some saw it was time to dust off national emergency telecommunication plans. A global platform looking at resiliency for telecommunications has been launched. More broadly still, will crisis finally push governments to leap the execution barriers to full digital futures? We shall see.

Background activity seemed to be surprisingly normal. In 5G, despite the virus, China retains a leadership role, although elsewhere sentiment may dent rollout. In the satellite industry, a dynamic market makes its own challenges for manufacturers: hacking, build capacity, a possible talent shortage, and fears regarding customer stability. Who does what with whom is also a feature in the launch space. Satellite executives have continuing concerns about encroaching mobile and WiFi demand after WRC-19 spectrum management decisions. For some, the virus does not seem to be an obstacle in near-term progress, but other commentators are predicting problems for small firms. Some saw a tipping point between incumbents and new entrants, and considered risks in the new systems. As if to emphasize the point, we saw OneWeb file for Chapter 11 late in the month.

In subsea, experts identified the standout systems of this year, but some suggested we fret less about cable breaks simply because the industry is so competent in repairing them. Data center commentators, ever mindful of expansion, are considering where the next hubs will be. The telco sector was urged to move to sustainable practices and look at energy efficiencies. One major Pacific telco said it expected to be carbon neutral this year.

In a time of big numbers, we saw another one: one estimate for cybersecurity fails puts global crime proceeds at USD 1.5 trillion annually, around three times Walmart’s annual revenues. Still, is data privacy really so important to individuals after all? The jury is out, despite the evident risks. Crisis notwithstanding, we were heartened by numbers saying data economies are surging around the Pacific Rim.

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