Everything has come to a standstill. No electricity at home and in offices, and transport services brought to a grinding halt. Fuel went into short supply. All in all, when 7 states in the first round, and more than double that in the second round went dark, we were actually surprised that the mobile networks were still connecting people as if nothing had happened! We must commend the hard work put in by the mobile service providers to keep their networks up and running in such dark times.
To understand what measures the operators implemented and what issues were faced in the process, we spoke with Mr. Rohit Gothi, CEO, Delhi NCR, Bharti Airtel Ltd.
1. What were the measures taken by Airtel to ensure that the mobile network remains up and running during the Northern Grid collapse?
I think planning was the key here. As soon as we got to know about the Northern Grid on day 1 and Northern and Eastern Grid failure on the next day, we decided on three key things -
a. We ensured sufficient backup power at the network core locations. In fact we took a call to shut a few offices like Noida that had both network hub as well as office space to prioritize power to the network.
b. We had a red alert across the network geographies and ensured that diesel was being filled at much shorter intervals to take care of the ‘no power’ situation.
c. Re-deployment of teams working in other functions to manage operations and upkeep of network. For instance, even the security team was asked to take care of filling diesel every now and then to ensure smooth network connectivity.
2. How easy was it to cope with the second grid collapse the very next day? After all, everything had come to a grinding halt, except the mobile networks and the Internet!
After the collapse of the grid on the second day, the complexities increased. Diesel sourcing was increasingly becoming difficult, but since we had created a provision for more than 48 hours, we could sail through the day.
3. Are there active measures in place to deal with such eventualities or it is more on dealing with them on a case-to-case basis?
Airtel has a policy in place for such eventualities. We have created a business continuity plan for various eventualities and the process is kick started in case of such events to ensure smooth network connectivity.