While a lot is being said about healthcare providers and essential service workers -- police, water, fire brigade, waste collection and bankers, hardly any one has spoken up for those who have seamlessly serviced the digital framework that all of us, including the above essential service providers have come to take for granted.
They have been virtually present, round-the-clock, working their digits to the bone at telecom and data centres, ensuring uninterrupted digital service usage for the rest of us.
When the lockdown was enforced, many private companies, including some government agencies, largely decided to allow employees to work from home (WFH). This could only be possible because of the staff at telecom and data centres who ensured smooth internet and digital services.
Mayuresh Annegiri, general manager, data centre operations and technology at Web Werks India, explained, "Nowadays, everyone does banking on their mobile so their data is stored at such centres. If, for instance, the server of a banking app goes down, it will largely affect the customers. It is the data centre which ensures that such situations do not occur. Banking is just one example, there are others too. Some government organisations too are hosted by us."
Since March 17, Annegiri has lodged himself in office, along with other team members and has been there ever since. He said, "I have an 18-month-old baby at home. The baby's immune system may not be strong and I cannot take chances. So, I've been connected with them only through video and phone calls."
Another telecom company employee, Sudhir Kunder, senior vice president and national head, sales at DE-CIX Interwire, India said, "Work comes first. Our work may not be much talked about in the industry but the internet ecosystem was able to run robustly because of internet exchanges like ours. There was a surge in internet demand and we are happy we were able to meet that demand efficiently and continue to do so. Like, for instance, if people were able to work seamlessly from their homes and watch content, it was because of the internet connectivity provided by people like us."
The pandemic is an altogether different challenge and the personal lives of employees in the essential service sectors have been largely affected but Kunder hopes, this too shall pass and soon, they will all be able to get their share of family time.