Lessons from delivering voice communications in a pandemic

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As we approach the end of a tumultuous year, it’s clear that working from home is here to stay. While opinions are divided over how many people will want to stay remote when offices are back open, it’s clear that the shape of networks today is very different to how we predicted them at the start of the year.

Back in April I wrote about how Colt was responding to the massive surge in voice traffic on our network, with one pinch point being the interconnects between fixed and mobile networks in various countries, where we saw traffic increases of over 86% at peak usage.

In that first wave of remote work, unsurprisingly it was the organisations and countries with well-developed VoIP capabilities who coped the best. For Colt, we were able to quickly scale up our network to cope, also redeploying SDH capabilities to cope with hotspots. We added SDH into national interconnects to deliver additional capacity where it was needed.

We saw a huge increase in users for Microsoft Teams and Zoom, reflected in demands from our enterprise and strategic alliance customers. We enabled our cloud and global content customers to keep people connected, with around 50 significant capacity increases approved and delivered across our core in March alone.

Now we’re seeing businesses take stock and consider how to make this work in the long term – getting everyone connected to the network from home had to happen quickly in many cases, but there’s a considerable difference in how you do something quickly compared to how you might set it up for the long term.

This could be in evaluating platforms and which is the most cost effective, particularly with Teams working as part of the Microsoft suite of products. Or it could be in assessing the cost of voice providers or the technology used by remote workers. Whatever they decide, 82% of managers agree that WFH and WFA (work from anywhere) must be a long-term option.

Businesses have had to quickly pivot on strategies in so many ways, so the modern composable business needs a solid collaboration and communication platform, underpinned by a UC platform that has enabled innovation at its core.

We all knew that flexible working was more than just a trend, but nobody could have predicted the changes in 2020. Now, as businesses look at how to connect their 2021 workforce, decisions need to be made about how to make this work for everyone in the long-run. Evaluating your needs, the tools required and the network that connects them all should be top of the priority list.

Abstract 3D network in future

Tim Cook

17 December 2020

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