The recent past has taught us that we need to adapt both mentally and technologically to changes that came as a result of COVID-19. In a crisis, we feel the effects on our lives, but the bigger question is, will it change our future and how?
In many places the pandemic is very much still a reality. Elsewhere, there is a promising trend of recovery. In both cases, some of the changes COVID-19 set off are likely to remain in its wake. Many industries are doing their part; here’s how telecom has helped during the crisis and its aftermath, and continues to help in areas that are still experiencing the effects of the pandemic.
Telecom and COVID-19
COVID-19 has changed the way we live our lives – from how we get to work to our entertainment, social interactions, and doctor visits – just to name a few examples. For some, nearly every aspect of our lives has become remote. As we mentioned in an earlier blog post, this has placed a great strain on existing networking and telecommunications infrastructure and forced those in the telecom industry to adapt and expand in accordance with the demand.
If we check the numbers, bandwidth has increased by 50% in the past year alone.
However, the purpose of this blog is to focus more on the human side of the telecom industry than on the technical aspects of what we do. So let’s take a closer look at the changes that have occurred in our lives over the past year, and how the telecom industry has adapted in order to ensure that we emerge from this crisis.
Working and Learning from Home
When it became clear how serious the pandemic was, everyone that could work from home began to do so. In other cases, people were unfortunately let go as many businesses folded or went into “hibernation mode.” If possible, they began to look for other ways to make a freelance income online. Either way, this now meant virtual work.
Add to that all the remote education that began in 2020 and it became commonplace for homes to have several people trying to connect via video applications such as Zoom, Teams, Skype, and others. Suddenly, a simple Wi‑Fi home internet system that had always been more than adequate was now painfully sluggish. In an effort to get a decent connection, many were forced to create a hotspot with their phone from which they could work or learn. But that meant that the mobile network would become overburdened as well.
Although we were required to socially distance for our own health, it became very taxing on our emotional state. As humans, we have a basic need to connect to others, especially to our family and friends. When we couldn’t go out to restaurants and movies, or even to each other’s homes, the alternative often became social media, phone calls and texting, and video chats. Yet another aspect of our lives had moved, to a lesser or greater extent, to virtual channels, placing greater strain on our telecommunications networks.
Depending on their location and health risk category, many have remained in government-ordered or self-administered lockdown for quite a long time. As with social contact, we also have a basic human need to expand our horizons, both physically and mentally, even if that means something as simple as a visit to the supermarket from time-to-time. With some people relegated to remaining in one place for weeks or months at a time, the next best option has been to replace their daily routines (coffee, restaurants, shopping, etc.) with virtual outlets, such as online shopping, ordering-in food, and lots of Netflix, further adding to the demand for telecom services.
Emergency Health and Safety
From mobile health stations to virtual doctor appointments, we can see a direct parallel between work-from-home and healthcare from home. Doctors’ offices and hospitals are prime locations for COVID-19 to spread, so it is often encouraged or mandated that all appointments must be performed remotely when possible.
There has also been a severe impact on the health systems and hospitals, which have been stressed to the breaking point with COVID patients. Hospitals rely heavily on their data systems to ensure that patients receive correct, appropriate care, and these systems must be able to communicate with zero delay and with 100% reliability.
It is also crucial to have open lines of communication to notify everyone about the day-to-day health situation, along with relevant rules, regulations, and recommendations.
Finally, entertainment has taken a major blow in the current pandemic. In many situations, it became impossible or at least inadvisable to go to theaters, restaurants, museums, sporting events, and other attractions. This sector of the economy understandably was one of the hardest hit. That said, many different channels attempted to provide a virtual form of entertainment where possible. Now people can go on virtual tours of museums, for example. They watch TV and movies from the comfort (and safety) of their homes, and they have embraced the world of video games, an industry whose user base has skyrocketed over the last 12 months. Such efforts to adapt our routine to the virtual world must be accompanied by high-speed, high-bandwidth telecom performance, or they will fail miserably.
It can be argued that we have been moving toward a more virtual existence for decades already, as many virtual services can provide advantages in terms of convenience and accessibility. But COVID-19 put this trend into hyperdrive, often forcing the hand of those who were reluctant to make such a transition. While we all look forward to a safer, healthier world that we hope is returning soon, many of the changes we have made during this past year are likely to remain in a post-pandemic world.
In order to maintain this level of reliance on virtual services in our lives, it falls upon networking and telecommunications companies to create and maintain systems and infrastructure that can provide the bandwidth necessary to support this. The telecom industry provides a crucial life resource to support this change in our culture.
While some countries are at the tail end of the long and painful COVID crisis, others are still battling this threat and remain very far from the life they used to know. Whether we like it or not, our lives as we knew them have changed, and we are required to react and adapt to this new reality.
We at Ethernity Networks take this very seriously. We understand that crises like COVID-19 change our lives, and we are committed to giving the world the technology needed to bridge the gap from our old lives to the new and evolving life we are all trying to create. It is our mission and our privilege to provide a small but important part of the technology necessary to support this.
By Brian Klaff