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Mobile Connectivity Insights for a Time of Crisis

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Image of remote worker with Wi-Fi router
Image: escapejaja - stock.adobe.com
Imagine a being from some future world examining humanity of the 2010s. How odd it might seem to them that workers would drive — sometimes an hour or more each way — into an office only to use a laptop they carried with them and accessing the same network, resources, and apps available to them from home.
 
Sean Keating, CEO of wireless consultancy Vilicom, shared this imagined scenario during the most recent, and final, episode in our ongoing series on audio quality sponsored by Spearline. Hopefully, the takeaway for that being would be that humans were such social beings that such behavior was not only acceptable but expected, Keating shared.
 
Fast-forward beyond the close of that decade and into March 2020, and that being would see something quite different. In an extreme flip, work from home would be the new norm. As an examination of these recent weeks will show, humans are quite capable of adapting to a more flexible way of working… but not without the right technology in place to assure continued communications, Keating said.
 
Wireless technology is crucial, and during our conversation, Keating shared a variety of observations. Here are six of his talking points:
 
  1. During this period of massive WFH initiatives, mobile network providers are learning the value of making their networks more resilient and flexible for at-home workforces.
  2. If you’re of a younger workforce generation, you may have no idea what an Ethernet cable or wired network is, and most likely are using a laptop sans Ethernet port. With the Wi-Fi advances of the last few years, many businesses default to wireless within the office, using hard-wired Ethernet only for resiliency and backup as needed. Copper cable is hard to beat for reliability, but “if your Wi-Fi network is engineered properly, you can get very close to Ethernet experience,” Keating said.
  3. Voice is still the number one, or close to number one, app on corporate wireless networks – and there’s little tolerance for dropped audio. “It’s gotten to the point where people take good voice granted. And if it’s not right, you won’t be long in hearing about it and it does need to be fixed quickly,” Keating said.
  4. Oftentimes, companies implement indoor cellular or Wi-Fi initially to support voice, video, and other collaboration apps. But once the connectivity is there, the flexibility, availability, and quality lead them to create innovate new apps for employees and customers.
  5. When building an open office environment, be sure network engineers take into account coverage everywhere — including stairwells and fire escapes. Those areas won’t typically be someplace a company would think to ask about, but he’s encountered deployments where employees seek out those sorts of quite places to make calls, Keating said.
  6. Multitenant buildings require special care, to make frequencies line up and that there's no interference between different systems, Keating said.
 
For more of Keating’s insight, including on 5G, Wi-Fi 6, and innovation on tap, click here or on the podcast player below.
 
 

 

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