Boosting Connectivity will Fuel the New Remote Everything

As we move into a new way of working, there is an exciting opportunity for providers to explore new offerings for businesses to deliver connectivity outside of traditional city centre offices and into people’s homes. By Jamie Jefferies, GM and VP of EMEA at Ciena.

At the height of lockdown measures in the UK, 69% of the 33 million British workers were working remotely according to a study commissioned by Ciena. With millions of people working from home, children studying remotely while they wait to see if they can go back to school in the coming weeks, and social lives still mostly focused indoors, home broadband has become more important than ever before. With this home-centric life being more prevalent, both in the short-term related to COVID-19 and even longer-term with remote working being more widely adopted as the norm, there is an opportunity for service providers and global internet content providers to adapt to the changing network priorities of businesses, which have been accelerated by the global pandemic.

Providers in most industries will naturally prioritise services in areas that offer a greater potential return on investment. This has generally manifested in delivering connectivity in large city or town centres, where more potential customers are packed into a smaller area. As a result, the strongest internet connectivity tends to be available to people living or working around these high-density business and residential hubs.

Broadband usage patterns changed overnight

When the pandemic hit, this dynamic changed almost overnight. All of a sudden, workers needed that same level of connectivity in their homes, many of which aren’t in the city centres. Networks now need to be able to handle even more traffic and adapt as connectivity needs span vastly disparate locations, instead of the traditional urban hubs and city center offices. In addition, the way people used the internet at work and at home massively changed, putting more pressure on residential connectivity. To stay in touch with colleagues, workers turned to a variety of collaboration tools, including video conferencing. In fact, 62% of people increased their use of video calls from March to June.

It’s not just remote working that increased demand on home internet connections. During lockdown, half of Brits watched more news and current affairs, as well as generally more TV and movies online. While this is unsurprising given the restrictions on social activities that were put in place, the increased use of internet-reliant entertainment was putting more demand on home broadband.

Adaptable, flexible and smart

For many providers, they were able to shift bandwidth to where it was most needed. Providers that follow the principles of the Adaptive Network were able to do it autonomously, freeing up valuable time and ensuring SLAs were met. In essence, providers with networks that adapt can more seamlessly upgrade their hardware and software to react better to shifts in behaviour and connectivity priorities. A quality that was very useful in March, and will no doubt continue to be essential.

To react to the ongoing shift towards flexible, smart and remote working principles, many service providers have already taken steps to prepare for delivering bandwidth where it is needed. With potentially larger remote workforces, businesses may look to change how they approach connectivity. Even with employees working remotely, many businesses operate with a combination of hybrid, cloud and on-premise applications, so connectivity is ultimately still needed in offices. What this means as we continue to navigate towards a new way of working globally is that service providers are able to offer additional value by delivering flexible connectivity both on-premise and to employees’ homes.

Opportunity for providers to offer added value

Service providers can reap the benefits from these changing connectivity priorities by providing the necessary value customers demand. During the first few months of lockdown, it is estimated that a quarter of Brits took steps to improve their home internet, and one in 12 people changed service providers to achieve better connectivity. Whether these changes were driven by remote working, learning, social use or a combination of all three, it demonstrates that service providers can win customers based on their ability to deliver reliable and fast connectivity to people at home. This is not new, but it has the potential to be an even more important factor as remote working continues at meaningful levels beyond the pandemic.

As we move into a new way of working, there is an exciting opportunity for providers to explore new offerings for businesses to deliver connectivity outside of traditional city centre offices and into people’s homes. This goes beyond just rerouting available bandwidth to more rural areas. Trends like IoT, smart cities, driverless cars and 5G all have different connectivity requirements, from latency to uptime. As we forge ahead into a new world of remote everything, delivering connectivity where it needs to be before it needs to be there will allow providers to deliver enhanced value and set themselves apart from the competition.

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