By Cyber Era Reporter
In the context of the global coronavirus (COVID-19)pandemic, Orange has fully mobilised to ensure its customers continue to benefit from the continuity of its services and the availability of its networks in all circumstances.
The Orange Group sees this as a role and responsibility as an operator. Both in France and around the world, Orange is supporting its consumer and business customers, as well as all state, public or “critical” organisations, to make sure that their solutions and networks benefit from the necessary capacity to protect quality of life and to ensure business continuity. Particular attention is being paid to healthcare services, especially hospitals, to safeguard the technological tools they need to deal with this exceptional situation.
According to the Chairman of the Orange Group, Stéphane Richard: “We are living through an unprecedented situation that affects all of us in every aspect of our lives. During this crisis, Orange bears a particular responsibility. More than ever, we need to stay connected to each other: with our families and, for many of us, in our professional lives. To deal with this pandemic, I decided to set up and oversee a dedicated crisis unit at the Executive Committee level in order to coordinate the decisions taken by the Group on a daily basis and the measures being implemented in each of our countries according to the evolution of the situation.
My absolute priority today is to safeguard the health and safety of all Orange’s employees. At the same time, it is essential that we work to ensure the availability, security and integrity of our networks, which have now become critical for the continued functioning of our society. Faced with this considerable responsibility, the Group has taken excepti onal measures to protect staff during network operations, visits to customers’ premises, and in our supervision centres and data centres. I am extremely proud of the continued commitment and mobilisation of the whole company and in all countries where we are present,”.
Consumer customers in France
Despite a significant increase in traffic on fixed and mobile Internet networks, Orange’s capacity has remained robust, in particular for the Internet, TV and OTT services. Mobile voice traffic however has significantly increased, doubling in volume. To manage this, Orange has readjusted certain network parameters, most notably regarding inter-operator connection points.
Orange is counting on the full commitment and mobilisation of its teams, particularly its technical teams, to ensure continued quality and availability of service during this period. The Group’s networks are already scaled to meet the needs of massively popular events in normal times (including high-visibility football matches or the TV series Game of Thrones) and benefit from sufficient capacity to handle the current load. The Group is fully aware that connectivity via mobile or Internet access at home is currently essential to stay in touch with family and friends, to telework, to follow school lessons, and also for entertainment.
The Group is particularly vigilant with regards to its employees’ health and safety through redoubled hygiene and prevention measures, in line with the latest government recommendations. As part of its Business Continuity Plan, Orange has defined a list of priority activities, including network supervision, essential maintenance operations, technical support and commercial assistance.
In addition, even though all stores in France have been temporarily closed, customers who need support or who wish to modify their subscription or make a purchase can go to the orange.fr or sosh.fr websites or the “Orange & moi” or “My Sosh” mobile apps, which all remain available. Digital services, such as chat platforms for example, also remain available to enable customers to interact with customer support staff. In cases where a technician is scheduled to visit a customer’s home, they will be contacted by phone or SMS to confirm or postpone the appointment.
Finally, to provide additional support during this period and to help customers spend quality time with their families, Orange is offering all of its customers free-to-air broadcasting of the four OCS channels and the five kids channels (Boomerang, Tiji, Boing, Toonami and Canal J) via their set-top box until 31 March 2020 (excluding on-demand services).
Measures taken outside France
In all 26 countries where the Group is present in the consumer market, both in Africa and the Middle East as well as in Europe, Orange has implemented preventive measures alongside those taken by national authorities to deal with the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
A Crisis Committee, chaired by the Chief Executive Officer, has been set up in each subsidiary in order to regularly discuss the local situation and the necessary measures to be implemented. These measures include the suspension of international travel and the cancellation of all events until 31 May 2020, the application of preventive hygiene measures and the recommendation to interact through remote, digital tools as much as possible.
Finally, for each country, a Business Continuity Plan has been defined in compliance with national obligations, making it possible to protect employees and ensure the quality of service to customers.
Enterprise and professional customers in France and around the world
For Orange Business Services, around-the-clock business continuity for its customers is a priority both in France and in the more than 200 countries and territories where it provides telecommunications, IT and digital services for enterprise customers.
It’s Business Continuity Plan, which is already in place across the globe and is tested several times a year, has already enabled business continuity for companies during numerous global crises (natural disasters, political turbulence, pandemics, etc.) over the past 20 years. Orange Business Services is capable of transferring and reconfiguring its customer support activities across its five major service centres across the world.
Local teams are currently working to inform business customers of the preparatory measures that need to be taken and to implement them as quickly as possible. This work focuses on three main areas:
- the massive implementation of teleworking practises requiring the rescaling of networks to support the increase in secure connections,
- facilitating remote collaboration and/or large-scale virtual events through audio/web/video conferencing solutions, scaling-up customer relations resources (contact numbers, voice guides, chatbots, call centres, multi-channel messages) to adjust to a peak call context.
In order to help companies cope with the current situation and to allow their employees to work remotely in the best conditions wherever they are in the world, Orange Business Services has increased its network capacity and upgraded its service platforms. These measures allow it to support the ongoing exponential increase in needs and uses. The number of users connecting to their company’s network remotely has already increased by 700 per cent among its customers.
To enable everyone to work from home in good conditions, Orange Business Services has doubled the capacity for simultaneous connections on its platforms. The use of remote collaboration solutions such as video conferencing has also risen massively with usage increasing by between 20 and 100 per cent depending on the solution.
Finally, in France alone, teams are managing an additional 130 customer operations per day to increase the speed of their Internet connections or at their Data Centres. In total, nearly 3,500 Orange Business Services employees are mobilised to manage customers’ business critical activities and will continue to do so.
Orange is confident in the resilience and capacity of its networks across the world, but, however, appeals to its customers to remain reasonable in their uses in order to best preserve this essential common good during these difficult times.