Remote Work, IoT, and Smart Homes, Challenge WFH Users —
2020 is not a year many people want to remember, yet it’s a year which changed so much about the way we work and live. The global COVID-19 pandemic ushered in an unprecedented digital transition to a socially distant (and technology dependent) new world. While this transformation was driven by concerns for public health and safety, its changes will remain in place because they introduced new levels of comfort and convenience to our daily routines. And along the way, these changes revealed that few things are as important to our current reality as reliable home WiFi connections.
Take the remote office environment. At the height of the coronavirus outbreak, 71% of Americans were working from home — up from just 20% previously. Studies and surveys indicate that the majority of these workers want to continue from home even when it’s safe to go back into the office. And why wouldn’t they? Working from home eliminates long commutes and turns many of those “meetings that should have been an email” into just an email after all.
All this has happened as we approached a tipping point in technology, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Internet of Things (IoT) was very much on its way even back in 2019, and is one of the few industries that barely slowed down in the lost year of 2020. The IoT refers to the growing number of smart devices which connect to the web and make use of data and interconnectivity to make our lives easier. The resulting Smart Homes and even Smart Cities will interweave a host of IoT devices to create streamlined, futuristic versions of the places where we work and live.
But this dream of tomorrow depends on the ubiquitous presence of wireless Internet. All those remote workers, IoT devices, and rapidly developing Smart Homes require WiFi to do what they do. Suffice it to say, WiFi reliability is more important today than ever before.
WiFi 6 Arrives
Telecom companies made a big show of unveiling 5G, and with good reason. The blazing speeds make 5G a legitimate alternative to traditional Internet connectivity, offering even faster connections in some parts of the country. But while there was much fanfare around the 5G rollout, wireless Internet has quietly gone about its own systemic upgrade recently, introducing WiFi 6.
Both 5G and WiFi 6 technology are essential to ensuring today’s Smart Homes and virtual office spaces reach their full potential. Many of the processing functions of today’s smart devices are carried out in the cloud where these faster, more powerful networks let them function as intended. Moreover, they make it easier and more reliable to connect a large number of devices to a single network.
When WiFi 5 was introduced in 2014, the average US household had 5.2 devices connected to the Internet. That number had doubled by 2020, with homes having 10 connected devices on average. There’s no reason to think that number is done climbing — some 35 billion IoT devices are expected to be installed worldwide in 2021.
This is where the increased bandwidth of WiFi 6 comes into play. The theoretical maximum network speed that WiFi 6 can achieve is 9.6 Gbps, up from 3.5 Gbps on WiFi 5. It’s important to underscore the word theoretical here, as it’s unlikely you’ll ever see 9.6 Gbps in real-world use. In fact, the average download speed in the US is less than 1% of that potential ceiling. Luckily, the benefit of WiFi 6 isn’t in how fast a connection it provides to 1 device, but how much potential bandwidth it provides to a host of devices.
What IS True WiFi Support?
The more devices running on your customers’ home Internet, the more your WiFi network is strained. WiFi 6 and its incredible potential speeds translate into a more reliable experience for the home with multiple connected devices, but even that isn’t enough to ensure a flawless WiFi performance at all times. ISPs today report that 80% of service calls are WiFi-related and 90% of calls require customer education to solve. Most telecom providers are reluctant to guarantee customer service and technical support for home WiFi systems because once the connection gets into your home and off of the provider’s signal chain, it’s no longer their problem.
WiFi connectivity issues include slow speeds, long buffering times, intermittent disconnections, and other productivity disruptions. Distinct from general Internet outages, they are — in many ways — even more frustrating for the user, being more frequent and more difficult to solve.
This is increasingly becoming a business problem as well, since more and more people are working from home. But unlike when WiFi goes down at the office, a business is unlikely to dispatch an IT team member to another employee’s home to fix the problem.
As the world grows to rely on WiFi more than ever, we need a ready solution for WiFi issues. Customers don’t necessarily know the difference between your network and their own WiFi network. Thus, continued WiFi problems may even have them adding to your churn challenges.
Automated in-home service platforms are changing how ISPs and businesses handle WiFi connectivity. Such platforms can automatically identify issues on a home network, and generate step-by-step resolutions for consumers and tech support agents alike. This allows for self-serve solutions, as well as giving a support team the tools it needs to diagnose and correct the many issues that can occur with hardware from outside the ISP’s tech platform.
The results are easy to measure: service truck roll-outs are cut in half; up to 45% of service calls can be deflected to the automated troubleshooting menu; and handle times can be reduced by 60%.
All of this adds up to incredible amounts of time and money saved for the ISP, and a measurable improvement in customer satisfaction.
The future is going to be built on reliable WiFi, so it’s never been more important to find and fix the many problems that can plague a wireless network. An automated service solution is the ideal way to build a future where remote work, the Internet of Things, and the connected Smart Home, all function as intended.
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