Staying Connected – the importance of staying connected and how the network has been affected

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As we stay at home to adhere to governmental guidelines around the coronavirus outbreak, staying connected has never been more important. As social distancing involves a huge adaptation to daily lives, technology has become a vital player for assuring we can still interact with our friends, teachers, work colleagues and clients. The pandemic and subsequent changes to how people are living, and behaving is understandably causing record traffic peaks on internet usage. Whether we are working from home, learning from home or simply staying at home, the chances are we are using the internet more, causing record traffic peaks in internet usage.

Staying alert and alive

Staying connected can be extremely important for ensuring as many people stay healthy as possible. As the vulnerable members of society physically self-isolate, technology provides them with a way to not have to isolate altogether. Mobile network providers have stepped up to protect vulnerable customers, removing the data allowance caps on fixed broadband services to ensure everyone has a chance of staying connected.

Mobile networks have shown their dedication to their customers, with networks such as O2, EE, Three and Vodafone providing free access to the NHS website. This means access to the latest health information is available, without affecting user’s data allowances. They have also supported NHS staff to stay connected, with existing customers having no extra charges or limitations on mobile data, voice calls and texts on their personal mobiles for work purposes. This has helped with carrying out video consultations via video conferencing, reviewing radiology images and transferring large medical files.

The rise of video conferencing

Yet it is not only NHS staff needing to stay connected to do their job, the world is undergoing its largest working from home experiment ever, and the strain on internet usage is undeniable, with the surge reaching 50-70%. As most businesses not considered frontline workers opted to work from home, work across most industries adapted to being remote. As well as navigating new systems to complete work assignments – meetings and ways of keeping in touch with colleagues have gone virtual. Whether it is networking, team briefings or boosting morale with Zoom team drinks or yoga, video conferencing use has surged throughout the pandemic. Video calling can, however, put a strain on networks as Skype recommends at least a 300Kb speed up and down and some alternative resources needing an even faster speed.

This explosion of Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp and Houseparty has continued past the 9 to 5. Zoom quizzes, scavenger hunts and catch ups have become the new social life staples. This level of staying connected has allowed people to keep in touch with their friends and family in a more realistic way than a simple phone call, allowing people to share new fun experiences together. It’s also another way of passing the time, like streaming. With an increase especially prevalent on mobile devices, streaming has increased by at least 12% since the beginning of the lockdown. Virgin Media have adapted to this with a 10GB boost and sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Amazon have opted to lower the quality of their videos to ease the strain on networks. Beyond Netflix and Disney+ entertaining people from home, streaming has transformed sports and music events that people missing out have been able to still enjoy.

Staying connected in the future?

Although we will likely want to switch the Zoom quizzes for real life interaction as quickly as it is safe to do so, the workplace may see more of a permanent shift. Networks, whether it is broadband or mobile, have definitely experienced unprecedented demand but generally they have proved efficient in letting people carry on, as close to normal as possible. Many organisations may choose to keep their employees at home until a vaccine is found. As the travel ban continues, business overseas is taking place virtually, but will it prove more efficient to stay connected online than go through the expense and environmental damage of business travel? Longer term, a surge in remote working may continue long after a vaccine has been created. If businesses have seen how technology can fit their needs, working remotely may become more popular to meet employees’ work and life commitments as well as reducing overheads such as rent and travel expenses.

At Commhoist, we provide end-to-end mobile telecoms logistics across the UK. We are supporting networks with their increased demand throughout the pandemic and will continue to help everyone stay connected longer term.