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Overcoming Remote Workforce Wireless Security & Connectivity Challenges During COVID-19

Meeting the Connectivity and Security Needs of Healthcare, Remote Workers, and Education Throughout the Novel Coronavirus Crisis Proves to Be a Big Challenge. Choice IoT’s Darren Sadana Shows How to Overcome Such Challenges With Advice on Some Best Practices and Solutions.

As COVID-19 and social distancing force businesses around the world to work from home, many challenges arise—especially as related to healthcare, business sectors and education—about connectivity, security, and technology needs. That’s the word from wireless and IoT company Choice IoT Inc.’s CEO Darren Sadana, whose vast expertise in such areas shows why those having solutions ready will adapt while others risk suffering from loss and greater disruption. “Temporary hospitals, telehealth, distance learning, and work-from-home all rely on making the right choices about wireless connectivity, data security, and technology needs,” Sadana says. “Without the right solutions, approaches, planning, and implementation, lives, businesses, and socioeconomic stability are all at stake.”

Amidst the pandemic, 88% of organizations have either encouraged or required employees to work from home. How companies handle this sudden and major transition into working remotely will determine their survival in what is increasingly becoming the “new normal”.(1)

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While it’s currently estimated that 75 million U.S. employees (56% of the non-self-employed workforce) hold jobs that are compatible with remote work, the wireless needs in terms of connectivity, bandwidth, and security present enormous hurdles.(2) Furthermore, studies show that 34% of employees think their companies are unprepared to implement work-from-home protocols.(3)

There are two major challenges related to this: broadband accesses and speeds have variable availability; and the surge in those online is taking a toll on download speeds from major providers. Internet traffic has increased by 40% in the U.S. while download speeds have decreased by anywhere between 5 to 31%—with dramatic increases following school closures across the country.(4)

School closures due to coronavirus crisis have impacted at least 124,000 U.S. public and private schools, affecting at least 55.1 million students.(5) That’s putting a tremendous strain on home networks, with families now working and learning from home with bandwidth limits not meant for that load.

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As the tip of the spear fighting COVID-19, healthcare is struggling to meet the wireless connectivity needs of temporary hospitals and the tremendous surge in telehealth services. The volume of telehealth consults have gone up several hundred percent since the pandemic struck—with some health systems reporting a staggering 500% increase in telehealth visits within the first weeks of the outbreak.(6)

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Healthcare and business sectors are also being challenged by connectivity and data security in transit. A recent joint alert from U.S. and U.K. government security notes of a dramatic rise in cybersecurity attacks related to COVID-19.(7) Schools are bypassing privacy and security controls in a rush to offer online learning at the same time that the FBI issued warnings regarding increased attacker vulnerabilities to teleconferencing and online classrooms platforms.(8)(9)

Despite these and other challenges to the new normal of telehealth and remote work/education, Sadana says that home and business planning coupled with corporate, connectivity provider, and government support can head off major challenges. This includes:

  • Ensuring home Wi-Fi networks are using the faster 5GHz network versus the standard 2.4GHz network.(10)
  • Organizations determining if they need to supply their employees with additional bandwidth to meet application and file-sharing needs.
  • Over 390 companies and trade associations signing the FCC’s “Keep Americans Connected” pledge to forego service termination for residential or small business customers unable to pay bills due to the COVID-19 crisis as well as open Wi-Fi hotspots to Americans that need them. The FCC has also granted special temporary authority to T-Mobile, US Cellular, and Verizon to borrow additional wireless spectrum to support increased broadband usage.(11)
  • Implementing cloud-based collaboration services for employee access to company applications, private databases, communications, and even email systems since these do not need to rely on physical, on-premise infrastructure.
  • Organizations ensuring all employees use a virtual private network (VPN) on remote digital devices to keep communications/data secure.

According to Sadana, the glue that will hold all of this together is essential from solution providers—like Choice IoT:

“We’re stepping up and doing our part by providing strong support and infrastructure to solution providers, businesses, and others to help remote hospitals, workers, and students manage connectivity and security,” Sadana says. “By offering a variety of wireless plans that fit these varied needs for continuity and increased demand for broadband high speed 4GLTE, 5G, and IoT connectivity, we can reduce the load on landline broadband and also reach places that landline broadband doesn’t cover.”

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