Laptop, monitor and home office chair? Check.
Separate space where your kids (and dogs) won’t interrupt you? Maybe.
Home broadband that doesn’t lag and cut out during your meetings? Not quite.
Confidence that your connection is secure? Well … no.
Welcome to the world of working from home. It can be a bit daunting at first, especially for parents who are suddenly home-schooling their kids while performing their full-time jobs and cooking dinner — all in one place, all at once.
Remote workers are also dealing with technology challenges, like how to stay reliably connected to their essential cloud apps and corporate networks.
But with the right tools in place, remote workers are actually proving to be happier and more productive than ever, thanks in part to new wireless technologies.
1. The new (WFH) normal
With hundreds of millions of employees worldwide now logging on from home every day, it’s remarkable that most businesses are functioning as well as they are. Thanks to Herculean efforts by service providers, IT administrators and flexible, resilient employees, most jobs that can be done at home now are being done from home quite well. But this overnight change has also exposed a huge digital divide for millions of people who lack the reliable home broadband they need for their remote work, remote learning and access to telehealth.
It also highlights the fact that we need to prepare our communications infrastructure, in the U.S. and globally, for a tidal wave of data traffic as the world becomes more connected in more ways — and more places — than ever.
The good news: 5G networks and devices can deliver the capacity, speed, security and flexibility we need.
2. Why operators need 5G
According to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, wireless traffic will grow from today’s average of 10.7 GB per subscriber per month to 45 GB per subscriber per month by 2025. 5G networks are coming to the rescue with the ability to deliver 100x more capacity, 100x faster than 4G networks. 5G also makes it possible for mobile operators to reach customers in a variety of exciting new ways, including 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) broadband service for homes and businesses (even in rural areas) and new cutting-edge enterprise IoT applications, including private networks.
3. Why employees need 5G
In 2019 (when you maybe telecommuted one day a week), you just needed home internet that was ‘good enough’ for email, web browsing and the occasional file transfer.
Now you need home broadband that’s fast and reliable enough for videoconferencing on Zoom, Webex or Teams — several times a day, every day of the week. But millions of employees lack the high-speed home broadband they need for this kind of connectivity. If you’re tired of competing for internet access with your neighbors and your game-playing, Netflix-streaming kids, consider a 5G solution. A good 4G/5G mobile hotspot or home router with onboard VPN can give you a separate, secure pipe for all your work (and education and telehealth) needs, with a gigabit-class connection that stays connected.
4. Why IT departments need 5G
In order to support a distributed workforce, your IT team needs to provide fast, secure connectivity for all work-from-home employees. This often means you need to deploy new customer premises equipment (CPE) for those workers.
New 5G mobile broadband and fixed wireless access (FWA) devices can be mailed to employees and self-installed, providing them with reliable, secure, compliant connectivity. Your IT team can easily control the configurations, usage and settings across the entire fleet of devices.
Having a highly distributed workforce also expands the “threat surface” for cybersecurity attacks against your corporate network, with insecure home networks and devices opening the door to malware and data breaches. Next-generation 5G technology and devices are designed for strong security at every level, whether you’re an individual user or large IoT network.
While new 5G networks are still launching and expanding their footprint, remember that these new devices also deliver gigabit-class connections on today’s ubiquitous 4G LTE networks.
5. Why the world needs 5G
5G was already poised to change the world before the onset of COVID-19, but it has emerged as an even more vital technology in recent months. From the seismic shift to remote work and remote schooling to the dramatic adoption of telehealth, we’re seeing just how flexible society can be, and how wireless technology can support both today’s changes and tomorrow’s growth. Our untethered society will offer greater freedom and flexibility than we’ve ever imagined.
5G is not just a fatter pipe or a faster smartphone. It’s a platform for countless innovations that will help us adapt, thrive, and build a better world.
Dan Mondor is Chairman and CEO of Inseego Corp., a pioneer in 5G and intelligent device-to-cloud solutions.