The Covid-19 pandemic has forced a change in many aspects of life here in T&T.
Schools are closed, more people are working from home and now it seems that having a proper internet supply is less of a luxury and more of a necessity.
There are several internet providers in this country, the largest is state-owned TSTT—so Guardian Media is zeroing into different aspects of the company to see how it is managing during this time of high demand.
Last week, CEO Dr Ronald Walcott spoke in an interview.
Now, the man in charge of Network and Service Performance and Assurance Kenrick Garcia, speaks.
Garcia started as a trainee and has been at the company for 39 years.
He’s seeing all and is now tasked with treating with the unprecedented COVID-19 virus and Stay- At- Home orders from the Government.
He said from the onset TSTT has been doing more monitoring of its networks.
“Our reporting used to be done on a weekly basis, now I do reports up to four times a day now,” he said.
Under his purview is the reporting on major aspects of the company’s business like mobile network and broadband service.
He said, “All the various special sites, especially like the COVID-19 sites, like the Couva site, like the Caura site; we pay special attention to those types of thing.”
Of course, TSTT did anticipate an increase in demand for internet usage but, “it just blew out exponentially…I don’t think anyone would have anticipated the volume it would have grown to.”
But as Garcia explained, a few years ago they did expansion on the network and today it is doing them proud.
“And with that expansion our network has been rising up to the challenge and has been performing beautifully even under these conditions,” he said.
He said TATT (Telecommunication Authority of Trinidad and Tobago) has also given them an additional spectrum with has, in turn, provided them with additional capacity.
Garcia said there is no doubt in his mind how important a reliable internet supply is during this time and assured that he and his team are always managing the network traffic to ensure there are no bottle necks.
He said It is also very important now that more inspection and analysis is done.
“Because it is more important now that you are home you are connected because you don’t want the kids running around without internet, that is a no no,” he added.
He noted that there has been a change in the way and times people use the internet. He said before COVID-19, the peak time would run from about 6 PM till around 11 PM.
“But what we seeing now, the peak times have increased maybe by 300 per cent. What we seeing now is traffic bumping up to peak time traffic from about 10 in the morning and that continues almost well into midnight every night,” said Garcia.
One major concern for Garcia and his company is the increased level of misinformation regarding the virus, so the company made a decision to make available to the public, credible sources of information.
“And the beauty of that is you spend no data to do that because we have zero-rated those sites,” he said.
Among the sites are the Ministries of Health and Communication, CARPHA, PAHO, UNICEF, the ODPM, and the three mainstream newspapers and local television websites.
Garcia admitted that the task has been challenging at times but he has the full support of his 69 team members who have to get the job done.
“COVID or no COVID, we always on the frontline.”
He explained that he has to do what is necessary to boost the morale of his team, especially during this time. He said as a leader he understands how to approach each person under his charge.
Garcia said: “Employees must feel that you have a genuine concern for their safety, for their own well-being and that goes a long way and that is why you get the kind of support you need.”