COVID-19 Crisis

Commissioner Community Responses

In Moments of Crisis, Broadband Commissioners Come Together to Offer Immediate Support to Communities Worldwide​

​​In response to COVID19, a number of Commissioners have released a number of initiatives and applications have been launched, several leaders have cal​led for action from their communities to help the world’s population c​ope with this new pandemic​.
Listed below are our commissioners' responses, organized by sectors of society.

Commissioner Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon, has released a number of initiatives to support first-responders a​nd maintain connectivity to vital services, including building new COVID-19 hotlines and deploying Verizon Response Teams to provide on-demand services. Verizon also partnered with the New York Times to offer students free access to Times journalism.

Director General of GSMA, Mats Granryd recognized the contributions made by mobile providers to deliver affordable access, provide vital services through cooperation with local governments, and help monitor and limit the spread of disease through the leverage of big data capabilities.

President and CEO of MTN, Rob Shuter, is prioritizing keeping people connected. Through the Y’ello Hope package, MTN is providing relief products to support mobile and digital platforms that relay vital information, offering free school and university sites to facilitate distance learning, and zero-rating some transactions on Mobile Money platforms.

Rajeev Suri, CEO of Nokia, confirmed the launch of a Coronavirus Global Donation Fund to provide financial assistance to charities, hospitals, health clinics, and other frontline non-governmental organizations who are leading the fight against COVID-19 and trying to mitigate its effect on communities.

Commissioner Paul Mitchell of Microsoft shared the company’s efforts to provide assistance in the areas of community support, remote working, education & family, technical support, and research & academia.

Denis O’Brien, Digicel & Broadband Commission

Chairman of Digicel Group, Denis O’Brien, ensured the activation of business continuity plans and protocols aligned with WHO recommendations and teamed up with Health Ministries to assist the public with timely and accurate information.

Commissioner Sun Yafang of Huawei shared the company’s initiatives to fight the spread and impact of the virus in the fields of artificial intelligence assisted healthcare, online education, and enterprises on Cloud.

CEO of Intelsat, Stephen Spengler, released a statement sharing Intelsat’s commitment to protecting its employees and ensuring continuity of its global operations through the establishment of a COVID-19 Task Force, activation of the Intelsat Emergency Broadcast System, and comprehensive testing of remote-work capabilities.

Commissioner Kevin Martin, Vice President, Mobile and Global Access Policy at Facebook; Through Keeping People Safe and Informed About the Coronavirus, Facebook is supporting the global public health community’s work to keep people safe and informed during the coronavirus public health crisis.

Broadband Commission Co-Chair, CEO of Grupo Carso, and President of the Carlos Slim Foundation, Carlos Slim released a statement on the allocation of one billion pesos through the Foundation to support health measures, education learning platforms, and employees and clients of Grupo Carso.

CEO of Samena Telecommunications council, Bocar Ba, published a press release calling for a united technology-policy-collaboration to expedite the implementation of 5G across the world in order to deal with the aftermath of COVID-19.

Smart Africa Director-General, Lacina Koné has called for proposals and Digital Solutions for Governments to Tackle the #Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic in #Africa.

President and CEO of the Web Foundation, Adrian Lovett, released a statement on the Contract for the Web, a plan of action to increase access to the web, fight misinformation, and ensure the responsible and effective use of data.

Dr. Joanna Rubinstein, President and CEO of Childhood USA is leading and participating in several efforts to protect children during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Together with global partners, Childhood USA developed and released a Technical Note with recommendations for governments, private sector and educators for child online safety, and in partnership with experts developed Parenting Tips for Keeping Children Safe Online during COVID-19. 

Internet Society (ISOC) President & CEO, Andrew Sullivan wrote an article on how the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the need to deploy access and network-improving technologies according to the needs of the communities.

Head of the Novartis Foundation, Dr. Ann Aerts, announced that the Novartis COVID-19 Response Fund will allocate $20 million to help impacted communities worldwide, including programs to strengthen digital platforms for data collection and dissemination of important public health information.


ITU Secretary General and Broadband Commission Co-Vice Chair, Houlin Zhao, launched a global platform to sustain and ensure continuity of telecommunication networks during the COVID-19 crisis. The Global Network Resiliency Platform will assist governments and the private sector in ensuring that networks are kept resilient and telecommunication services are available to all.

Director General of UNESCO and Broadband Commission Co-Vice chair, Audrey Azoulay, launched the Global Education Coalition to support countries in scaling up their best distance learning practices and reaching children and youth who are most at risk.

Commissioner Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, launched a #BuildforCOVID19 hackathon to promote the development of software to take on challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, WHO launched a Health Alert to bring COVID-19 facts to billions via WhatsApp.

Robert Kirkpatrick

UN Global Pulse director, Robert Kirkpatrick, joined forces with researchers from WHO and the MILA- Quebec AI institute to map the landscape of artificial intelligence applications that are being built to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in the latest research paper.

Mukhisa Kituyi

UNCTAD Secretary-General, Mukhisa Kituyi, published a new analysis that provides snapshots of how technology is being used as a critical tool in maintaining business and life continuity, and reveals inequalities in digital readiness.

FAO Director-General, Qu Dongyu, rolled out a toolkit for smart policymaking during the COVID-19 crisis to ensure that policymakers can rapidly review and assess options through the Food and Agriculture Policy Decision Analysis (FAPDA) platform.

Broadband Commission Co-Chair and President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, emphasized resilience in his written statement for the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders Summit, stating “Let’s work together to end the COVID-19 pandemic and build resilient health systems to keep our people safe in the future.”

Commissioner Marcin Cichy, President of the UKE, released a statement on new measures to manage network congestion and guarantee service continuity. In addition, UKE entered into a joint agreement on the special protection of users against data phishing sites, including for personal data.

H.E. Dr. Amani Abou Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, has released a joint continental strategy to limit transmission and minimize harm In Africa, amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Commissioner H.E. Al Mansoori, Director General of TRA released a number of initiatives launched by the government of the UAE to enhance the ICT sector, including free mobile phone internet data to enable distance learning and access health platforms, and extension of wireless authorizations and provisions.

Commissioner Leong Keng Thai, Director-General (International Affairs) of the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore (IMDA), shared Singapore’s efforts to ensure access to timely and accurate information, help citizens acquire digital skills, and enable businesses to access digital solutions.