Wireless Connectivity Spurred by COVID-19 is Here for the Long Haul
It’s been more than one year since the COVID-19 outbreak first made its impact; one year since offices sent employees home to work, students started connecting in virtual classrooms, doctors began diagnosing patients via telehealth and many people started relying on online ordering to access food, medication and other supplies.
Prior to the pandemic, no one will argue that we were already following the road to Internet of Things (IoT) and smart buildings. But this unexpected shift sped up our trip and increased reliance on wireless technology and device connectivity. Last year, wireless kept our world going. It maintained business, learning, healthcare and life.
Around the world, digital technologies were used to track the spread of COVID-19, help with contact tracing and even ensure adherence to stay-at-home orders when necessary. Wireless devices like sensor-equipped drones observed crowds for social distancing and even monitored body temperatures or watched for symptoms like coughing or sneezing. Once the drones collected this critical data, the information was communicated to authorities in real time so action could be taken.
In some countries, including the United States, autonomous robots even delivered medical supplies, food and other essentials to protect people and prevent contact.
Of course, wireless will also support our safe re-entry into stadiums, offices, schools and public spaces. For example, in airports, things like thermal sensors, smart helmets and robots are now prevalent to detect people who exhibit signs of the virus (such as a high body temperature).
But wireless connectivity will be about much more than monitoring for high temperatures and social distancing. It will involve mobile apps that run in the background to gather data, sensors that gauge air quality and communicate with HVAC systems or track-and-trace systems to keep e-commerce in full operation.
Now that we’ve moved in this direction—and stayed here for so long—there’s no going back. People who came to rely on these new levels of connectivity and remote service will expect them this year, next year and beyond.
If children were learning in virtual classrooms last year, why wouldn’t they continue if they choose to do so? If doctors were able to see patients for express care, why wouldn’t they continue to expect that level of convenience in the future? If workers proved to employers that they could be as productive—if not more so—at home, then why wouldn’t some employees choose to continue down that path?
We’ve learned the value of being able to continuously collect information and share it with remote data centers to significantly improve efficiency and support better decision-making.
Cable: The Wireless Lifeline
With everything going around the world—and the rate of wireless technology change—the last thing some people want to talk or think about is cabling. It’s more fun to think about emerging tech. But the key to making this technology work? It’s cable! So while it may not be sexy, it’s technology lifeline.
We call it layer 0: cable and connectivity. A well-designed, properly installed layer 0 can:
- Decrease signal loss
- Optimize network performance
- Simplify network maintenance
- Support faster, easier moves, adds and changes
- Support increasing technology and bandwidth demands
The innovations we described above require higher amounts of bandwidth and information capacity, which can only be supported with high-performance cable and connectivity, such as singlemode fiber (OS2), multimode fiber (OM4) cable and Category 6A solutions.
As reliance on wireless connectivity increases, outdated cabling infrastructure will become a bigger issue as it causes network slowdowns, dropped connections and bottlenecks.
Belden has developed new fiber and Category 6A solutions that help create a robust, reliable and high-performance infrastructure—without compromising on performance or ease of use. Remember: The technology you deploy can only be as good as the cables and connectivity that support it.