Editor's Corner: Profit in the time of COVID-19

Telecommunications companies need to help their business customers cope with the fallout from the coronavirus, but they also need to be mindful of not looking like they are overtly cashing-in. (Pixabay)
Mike robuck

Now that even President Trump is (seemingly) on board in regard to the threat of the COVID-19 virus, telecommunications companies have some ethical considerations to make that go beyond whether or not to attend industry events or conferences.

COVID-19, also referred to more generally as coronavirus, appears to be poised to become a pandemic, which means businesses and organizations of all stripes are no doubt allowing more employees to work from home. It's a thin line between telecommunications companies helping telecommuting employees and aggressively cashing in on the coronavirus threat.

Among the video conferencing companies that stand to profit from the coronavirus outbreak are Cisco Webex, Zoom, Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Hangout Meets. For the most part, I would guess a number of the large companies and their customers already use one of those platforms, but Zoom's stock has increased from $85 per share at the start of February to a close of $118 per share on Tuesday.

On the flip side, ABC News reported yesterday that Amazon has removed more than 1 million products for misleading claims or price gouging on products related to the coronavirus outbreak. ABC also reported that Facebook similarly announced it was banning ads on its platform that "guarantee a cure, create a sense of urgency or otherwise attempt to cash-in on the COVID-19 outbreak."

Closer to home for FierceTelecom's coverage, on Tuesday I received an email from Aryaka that touted an "easily installed enterprise network traffic solution to meet the capacity needs of VPNs almost immediately." Aryaka said concerns over the coronavirus have "led to the largest remote workforce in human history," which in turn is creating massive overloads of internet traffic as VPN systems are flooded by employees trying to log-in across long-haul public internet lines.

“Business continuity operations require telecommuters to be productive and served by the best possible application experience," said Shashi Kiran, CMO of Aryaka, in a statement. "The Aryaka Secure Remote Access Solution delivers a global HOV lane for telecommuters and helps enterprises deal with this situation without significant infrastructure investment or time delays."

With its own private network, Aryaka is well-positioned to offer an "HOV-lane" for businesses' telecommuters. In order to draw in new customers, Aryaka also announced a limited-time offer for its Secure Remote Access solution. The company is offering a free VPN concentrator domain license with new qualifying purchases of the Aryaka SmartSecure Remote Access solution. The promotion is good until April 30 for both new and existing customers.

So, is that a savvy business move by Aryaka, or a coarse approach for profiting in the time of the coronavirus? — Mike

Editor's Corners are opinion columns written by a member of the Fierce editorial team. They are edited for balance and accuracy.