Work at Home and the Reality of Connectivity

Fibre connections that provide high-speed internet access are mostly available in large commercial districts. At the same time, residential zones in most cities have limited fibre availability or even adoption. Which is why at home people make do with 4G LTE variety of mobile connectivity. Many areas where people live also have inconsistent infrastructure and service resources.

Today, work from home is a necessity for the foreseeable future leading to reduced data requirements in offices and higher in homes. With more people at home right through the day, the nature of the service plan would likely need to change. The internet is needed for work, for school and for entertainment. Children now have online classes and multiple family members who would otherwise be in their office are now using home connectivity at the same time. People are also consuming more data just for streaming entertainment. Mostly extended higher quality streaming usage by more members of the family. Network pressure is such a significant challenge that several streaming providers have now been requested to downgrade the quality to SD level in India. Europe has made similar requests to these companies as well. 

All this means higher speed requirements and data utilisation in homes. Such an inversion of demand in network architecture is a challenge for network providers. Service quality departments make assumptions on number of users and relevant contention ratios. Those assumptions today are totally out of the window, requiring Telcos and network providers to address these significant configuration challenges. At the same time they cannot do much in the short term, some because of health and safety restrictions and others because of the nature of investments that need to be changed/modified. Hence,  given the nature of infrastructure deployment, even if the customer wants a higher speed connection, the service provider is unable to service it. 

There are other issues too. Can the family afford it? Alternatively, will the company pay for these costs at employee homes, or will the employee have to absorb them? Companies will need to figure out a way to rationalise these costs quickly. 

Managers today are probably grappling with these kinds of exigencies even while staying focused on delivering exceptional experiences for their customers. Just a few days ago, sending a 4k video to a colleague would be a no-brainer on the office network. Today though it means someone uploading it over maybe an 8mbps connection. Another colleague then downloads it and then after editing needs to upload it. So it is not just about using Teams, Zoom and other services. It’s more. How do managers operationalise it and what does it mean for timelines and commitments. 

You will need to make sure that your big meeting over Microsoft Teams (or any other platform) does not suffer from inconsistent connection. Patchy network situations means one would have to think about building redundancy in connectivity options for employees i.e. they have more than one connection to ensure continuous operations. 





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