And it’s telling that a quick search will find stories of customers with ongoing bandwidth issues (with hashtags like #losingmyvirginIT going national on social media); many going to great lengths to get internet access, like jumping onto a neighbour’s Wi-Fi through a mesh network or sitting in their car at the bottom of the drive.
More data used than ever before
Back in 2016, the UN announced that they see internet access not just as a utility, but as a human right. Since then, its importance as a utility has only shot up; especially considering the shifting of everything online spurred on by the pandemic.
I’d go so far as to say that internet access is the second-most crucial utility, beaten only by electricity.
It’s a conduit for all the things we need:
It feeds us.
And after the first UK lockdown, meal delivery titans like Deliveroo and innovative new players like Dishpatch saw a surge in food orders; which gave restaurants and local food stores the chance to adapt and provide the restaurant experience at home. Big Smoke Brewery, my local, saw their annual online orders rocket up from 157 to 15,864!
Retailers believe these trends will continue, even as we ease out of lockdown; and some companies like The Co-op are looking even further ahead, using IoT-powered robots for contactless, emissions-free home delivery.
It entertains us.
Even now movies that were planned for cinema, like Mulan, Onward, and The Invisible Man, are being released online instead. Not to mention the rise of online gaming, which is well-known for eating up swathes of bandwidth.
(For parents with young children whose boundless energy and minds need to be occupied, it’s about more than just entertainment—it’s a matter of sanity.)
And while we’re all no doubt getting tired of online drinks and quizzes, we’ve been fortunate to have the limited socialisation enabled by the internet. Video calls have been really important for families who can’t visit each other, couples stuck in separate households, and friends who can’t hang out. We’re social creatures, after all!
It allows us to work and learn.
As an added benefit, the shift to working from home has shown that many jobs can be done from anywhere, which will free up people’s time to be spent in more fulfilling ways. Flexible working will be far more commonplace moving forwards.
While it’s not quite the same for children, since going to school provides social interaction that’s incredibly important for their development (and lets parents get their work done), the internet has been key in minimising the impact of schools closing.
‘What about water?’ you might well argue. Well, one quick click means a delivery of big water bottles can be with you on the same day, solving all your drinking needs! (And in a socially-distanced age where all of our business and pleasure needs are met onscreen, missing a couple of showers isn’t the end of the world.)
Mobile data’s role in internet access
For businesses looking to open up after this (hopefully final) lockdown with the use of back-to-work IoT and connectivity solutions while ensuring they have internet access at all times, adaptive mobile options like unsteered Multi-network SIMs are still the answer. Especially with BT’s PSTN switch-off around the corner, which will rip the carpet out from underneath many businesses who rely on those lines for internet access.
Think about it this way: with how much we rely on electricity, it’s recommended that homes and businesses have a backup generator in case of emergencies. They keep businesses trading and homes safe.
Compare that to internet access—a utility that we rely on just as much, yet one that constantly suffers due to network outages and bandwidth restrictions. If power dipped as frequently and for as long as internet access did, there’s no way you or your customers would stand for it.
But the good news is: nobody has to stand for it. With options like mobile broadband and 4G backup, mobile connectivity can work as both your main line and your backup generator in a storm, keeping you connected no matter the weather.
And for Channel partners, it’s easier than it’s ever been to meet that demand and more with mobile connectivity. If that’s an opportunity that you’re interested in, drop us a line!