Cork company finds call quality suffers in coronavirus-impacted areas

Telecommunications in China and South Korea have suffered significant drops in quality due to the coronavirus as engineers are unable to carry out maintenance and repairs at key sites, a Cork company has found.
Cork company finds call quality suffers in coronavirus-impacted areas
Travellers wear protective masks while sitting at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. Travel restrictions have been imposed by companies worldwide. Photographer: Cesar Rodriguez/Bloomberg
Travellers wear protective masks while sitting at Tocumen International Airport in Panama City. Travel restrictions have been imposed by companies worldwide. Photographer: Cesar Rodriguez/Bloomberg

Telecommunications in China and South Korea have suffered significant drops in quality due to the coronavirus as engineers are unable to carry out maintenance and repairs at key sites, a Cork company has found.

Spearline, headquartered in Skibbereen monitors international phone numbers for connectivity and audio quality. They said that in late January there was a 7.2% drop in audio quality in China while South Korea noted an increase in connection issues and a 12% decrease in audio quality in late February.

“Since late January, the decrease in China’s audio quality has stabilised with no further impact detected, however a 12% drop within a two week period in South Korea is massive," Kevin Buckley, Spearline’’s CEO and co-founder said.

"Last week, Italy emerged as an area of concern and we are monitoring any changes in audio quality there closely.”

“Carrier engineers are unable to access key sites for repair due to restricted movement. Businesses are altering work patterns, imposing travel freezes and staff are working remotely from home offices,2 Mr Buckley said.

This new mass dynamic shifts the demand on local and national telecoms networks, impacting international telecoms services as a whole.

Spearline also has offices in Waterford, Romania and India. It operates servers in more than 70 countries and has conducted millions of test calls worldwide to analyse call quality.

Leaders in Europe, the Middle East and the Americas rolled out bans on big gatherings and stricter travel restrictions as cases of the new coronavirus spread around the world.

The outbreak is disrupting flight demand and many airlines have suspended or modified services in response.

Amazon deferred all non-essential travel, within the US and beyond, and Google set new restrictions for travel to South Korea and other places, as corporations moved to protect employees from the spread of coronavirus.

Google is banning travel to Iran and two Italian regions, Lombardy and the Veneto, where the virus is spreading. The company will also ban travel to South Korea and Japan, a spokesman for the company confirmed.

Facebook Inc also said it would cancel its annual developer conference in May because of the virus.

The epidemic, which began in China, has killed almost 3,000 people worldwide.

Thailand reported its first death from the virus on Sunday, while in Australia, a former passenger on the Diamond Princess cruise ship quarantined off Japan died in the western city of Perth.

Churches closed in South Korea as many held online services instead, with authorities looking to rein in public gatherings, as 376 new infections took the tally to 3,526 cases.

Additional reporting Reuters.

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