If you thought broadband was important before, it’s positively essential now.

With COVID-19 and millions of adults and kids working and learning from home, fast, reliable broadband has transitioned from a nice-to-have to a must-have to an essential survival tool. If this were a beer commercial, we’d be saying to broadband, I love you, man. I can’t live without you!

I see broadband needs split into three categories: personal, commercial, and community.

1. Personal

On an individual level, people are running into several different types of internet-related problems as they try to work and live completely at home.

Sharing is Hard

I used to be on a cable internet service with a 200MB download speed. That sounds like a lot, but it’s over a shared connection, and not just sharing with the three other people in my household, but with the surrounding homes as well. It feels a little bit like a playdate where the hosting kid doesn’t want to share his toys. I was getting dropped during virtual meetings. If I wasn’t dropped completely, my video would freeze up. It was incredibly disruptive. The bandwidth I needed just wasn’t there.

The Cavalry’s Here!

Then, just like in a great superhero movie, someone came to my rescue, and that someone was Metronet. Solarity helped attract Metronet to the Lexington area as part of our project with Lexington to make it a “Gigabit City”. I’m grateful because with their fiber optic cable plugged straight into my home I have a dedicated 1G of bandwidth to my house for the same cost I was paying before, and I don’t have to share it with any of my neighbors (he says smugly). Not everyone has this option, of course, but if you are struggling at home with internet speeds, it’s a good idea to check out other providers and see if they can meet your needs.

We’ll Always Have Hotspot

If your internet is spotty or just plain lacking, you do have the option to work off a hotspot, and nobody can take that away from you. Well, maybe your phone provider can. But in most cases a call to your provider to ensure your data plan will accommodate excessive hotspot usage may be all you need to maintain reliable internet at home. One thing to remember is that hotspots, while password protected, are not as secure as your home network with a proper security system.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

Here’s another problem I ran into personally. I’m not one to continually upgrade to the latest and greatest phone, and I recently discovered, much to my dismay, that my two-and-a-half-year-old iPhone 8 could not receive messages when I was out and about unless I was on WIFI. I guess we all need that little push to better ourselves sometimes. And I guess we all need that little push to better our technology sometimes, too. Needless to say, I’m in the market for a new phone.

2. Commercial

On top of each person doing what they can to meet their own broadband needs, organizations are scrambling to do what they can to set their remote workforce up for success.

Check, Please

Some employees have laptops that they can take home with them easily enough, but many organizations have their employees standardized on desktops in an office setting. These people were relying on the company’s extensive infrastructure. Now they are trying to do the same work with little or no infrastructure at home. Solarity has seen some of our clients having to rapidly deploy new laptops and other technology in order to keep people working– an expensive, but sometimes necessary, proposition.

Tech, Please

Another major concern for companies is security. Where they might have had a robust firewall at the office, with everyone working as best they can with the tools available to them, there are a plethora of cracks for the bugs to creep in (remember Zoom-bombing?) Luckily, a virtual private network (VPN) can give their employees access to critical data from their homes. There are many companies that provide VPN services to individual consumers, and a larger company’s IT department can easily set these up. If you are using Microsoft Teams, like we are, internal security is already built in.

Can We Get Tony Stark in Here, Please?

Taking advantage of innovative technology is another way companies are dealing with this crisis. For example, Solarity is in talks with a company that is helping our clients do more with less. When information is sent over the internet, it travels in packets. Replify and their local partner, Terminus Positronics, compresses these packets to make them smaller, allowing information to move faster. Stay tuned for more information.

3. Community

For those of us lucky enough to have some infrastructure to pull on, that’s great, but what about the people in our rural communities?

No Magic Wand

Let’s face it, if high-speed internet isn’t available in your area, no amount of wishing is going to make it so. Making broadband available where it currently isn’t requires expensive, physical infrastructure, and in rural areas where homes are far apart and populations are sparse, there isn’t a lot of incentive for providers to invest. This was the genesis of the KentuckyWired project. But there is still more work to be done.

Show Me The Money!

Getting broadband to places where it currently does not exist starts with a feasibility study. If the incentive just isn’t there for providers, it’s possible to find funding through federal grants or municipal funds. This is a long term strategy that isn’t going to solve any problems today, but will put us in a better position to deal with similar problems in the future. This article in Broadband Communities Magazine goes into depth about the need for broadband in rural areas and how local officials and community leaders are beginning to see the need and take steps to address it.

If you would like more information on broadband access on an individual, organization or community level, give us a call at 888-272-4494.

Check out the rest of the Solarity COVID-19 blog series

About the Authors

Cory Camic, PMP®, Business Development Manager 

Cory has provided services to Solarity for five of his nearly 20 year career with proven ingenuity in the areas of sales team development and management, as well as leveraging solutions-based selling to increase corporate profitability. Additionally, Cory has 15 years of experience working in the technology field, helping to design, implement, and manage technology solutions for enterprise organizations in both the public and private sectors. Cory is characterized as a results-driven individual with excellent interpersonal and communication skills. 

Christy Swift has been a writer and correspondent in the United States and Canada for over 10 years. With a degree in English and technical writing, she has a knack for making complicated subject matter digestible and even tasty. Christy regularly conducts research into the latest trends in project management to provide the Solarity Group with engaging content for its website and e-newsletters. 

About Solarity

Our mission is to help people, organizations, and communities THRIVE! Our broad range of experience and knowledge in a range of different industries allows us to customize our approach to fit the situation. We work in total partnership with our clients to understand their business needs and the current environment, and then match the right amount of process to meet the culture and the project.