Mobile operator Ooredoo Qatar says it has enhanced its network to cope with increased demand during the Covid-19 lockdown period. Ooredoo said there has been an 11,000 percent increase in video calls, a 3,500 percent rise in online learning sessions and a fivefold increase in the number of gamers taking part in online contests. Voice calls are lasting around twice as long, on average. as before the pandemic.
As we have written previously, the impacts of the coronavirus on mobile usage habits are multifarious and cut in both directions, financially speaking, for operators. Shutdowns and social distancing, along with changing working conditions, have exerted upward pressure on usage and tended to favor more data-hungry functionalities such as video conferencing. On the other hand, the widespread economic downturns fueled by the pandemic have left customers with less money to spend.
Ooredoo’s reported usage increases are quite dramatic, especially the 11,000 percent (110-fold) rise in video calling. The large rise in gaming is also significant, considering not only that gaming uses a huge amount of data but also that is not a necessary activity for most users. These facts indicate that Ooredoo users in Qatar are not deterred, financially speaking, by the pandemic when it comes to consuming as much data as they wish to. We expect that the reason this particular operator has been seeing mainly upside in the pandemic, in terms of usage and most likely revenue, is that Qatar is a wealthy country and that for users there, the pandemic is a reason to spend more on mobile services, not less.