The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the UAE has added new communication tools to support remote working and learning.
The new tools, to be offered in coordination with the telecom operators – Etisalat and Du – until further notice are Google Hangouts Meet, Cisco Webex, Avaya Spaces, BlueJeans and Slack.
The telecom operators recently provided access to remote learning applications (Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Blackboard and Zoom) on the fixed network and Microsoft Teams, Blackboard and Zoom on the mobile network.
TRA said that they will review and update the list of available applications from time to time.
Moreover, the authority has extended the validity of all wireless authorisations of hospitals and medical centres across the country to support the precautionary measures taken by the UAE health sector in the current circumstances.
Hussein Al Hammadi, UAE Minister of Education, said that the launch of the remote learning initiative is extremely important is it enables seamless continuity of the country’s education curriculum and enhances the concept of lifelong learning.
Jyoti Lalchandani, Vice-President and Regional Managing Director for research firm International Data Corporation (IDC), said that when working from home is quite a common phenomenon in many countries for many years as commute times are quite significant, it has been a tradition, so far, to go to the office in the region.
However, he said that a number of companies in the UAE have adopted a work from home policy.
“All the infrastructure capabilities are available right now but there will be an adjustment period and we have to get used to it but time will tell, in terms of productivity and net gains. Remote working is going to increase sustainably and it is going to put a lot of pressure on IT departments to provide the level of support for remote workers and greater investment in remote-working applications,” he said.
As governments and industries become comfortable by working from home, he said the phenomenon is going to become the new norm.
Broadening boundaries of enterprises
“Now, we are seeing an integration of online learning into the school campus, which means that there will be some form of online teaching to start to penetrate the sector,” Jay Srage, CEO of technology advisory services company Centrigent and head of operations and lecturer at Michigan Ross Business School, said.
Leila Serhan, Public Sector Director for Microsoft UAE, said that they are working with education institutions across UAE’s public and private sectors to empower them with tools such as Microsoft Teams, making remote teaching and learning easier.
Savio Tovar Dias, Senior Director for Sales Engineering at Avaya, said that technology can help combat the spread of Coronavirus as people are living in an interesting world at the moment for the last two or three months and it is impacting businesses in all ways such as travels, meetings and face-to-face meetings have been curtailed.
“As many exhibitions and events have been cancelled, remote working and video conferencing will gain traction and it broadens the boundaries of an enterprise for various reasons,” he said.
However, he said that communicating over phone or video is never the same or replicates face-to-face meetings in any shape or form but some elements can bring together to help and deliver a more effective remote collaboration.