With The Coronavirus 5G Can’t Come Fast Enough

Qualcomm this week had a major update of their 5G progress, and it is impressive.  Part of the reason is that a small firm called Altiostar working with Qualcomm and Rakuten has developed a cell site that can be deployed in 8.5 minutes rather than three the more typical three days.  

But what 5G enables is the bandwidth needed for wireless Telepresence and if you travel virtually, rather than physically for or to work your chances of catching this virus are slim or none (as long as you stay home as much as possible and follow the published hygiene recommendations of avoiding contact, washing your hands often, and keeping those hands away from your face.  

Let’s talk about how 5G may have arrived just in time. 

5G Status

Currently, there are over 45 phone OEMs with phones either in the market or soon to be launched, and over 50 carriers have deployed 5G capability.  While it isn’t everyplace yet, and likely won’t be for a year or so, it should be available to many of you in the US, and Europe and connections are expected to jump to 2.8B by 2025 which I think is overly conservative given the current speed of deployment and the critical need for people to have travel alternatives.  

One of the biggest benefits for those who now, or soon, will need to work remotely to avoid getting sick is the ability to use a 5G home portal, which will provide this high-speed wireless network capability very quickly (without having to roll a truck).  These devices are just starting to show up, but the only one I found readily available was from Huawei, and given the risks using that firm’s technology, I’d suggest avoiding it.  

But we are close, and with a 5G phone like the new Samsung Galaxy S20, you can tether it in a pinch and get the bandwidth you need for a decent video conferencing stream.  

Teleconferencing Risks

There is has been a generally held belief that teleconferencing reduces your upward mobility (chance of getting a promotion) and adversely impacts your income (lowers your chance of getting a raise).  But a recent study indicates that this isn’t the case as long as you use video conferencing tools for face to face contact (not just over the phone) and when you take on supplemental tasks.  Volunteering for extra work is a reasonable trade-off for being able to work from home, avoid traffic, and hopefully avoid getting sick.  

By the way, if you don’t work in a company that allows telecommunications, you might want to suggest they change that policy before most of the company comes down sick, and it has to shut down.  Granted, certain kinds of jobs require on-premise work, but if you can move offsite, the people that don’t need to be on-site you significantly reduce the opportunity a virus has to travel with one of them into the workspace.  

So, against the backdrop of getting a virus that you might not survive, moving to work from home would seem to be a reasonable path to take.  

Tools

You do need a decent camera, microphone, and speakers.  Using a Smartphone or laptop to a meeting doesn’t look that professional, so I recommend a decent camera or a low-cost conference room solution.  What I’ve used myself is the Logitech Brio camera for a desktop solution, at $200 it is a decent camera which also supports HDR and 4k for a stunning picture and it supports Windows Hello if you want to use it for login.  For a stand-alone device, I like the Logitech Connect. At $499, it isn’t a cheap date, but you get a scan and zoom plus a much better speaker, and I’ve used it for TV interviews successfully.  

I’ve just started testing the Poly Studio X30, which also looks like a decent home office solution, but I haven’t finished installing it yet at this writing, so I can’t yet recommend it.  

Wrapping Up:

5G will provide far better bandwidth for those of us that need to work from home and with the Coronavirus spreading like wildfire that maybe most of us before long.  Make sure you understand your company’s work at home policy, configure to work at home before you need to, and then when things get bad, you can easily transition to your home and, perhaps, avoid getting sick.  Given the long gestation period of this virus, I’d recommend starting to work at home immediately and stay there as much as possible until you can get vaccinated or until there is an effective anti-virus in place.  

5G may have come at just about the right time for many of us who will suddenly need to work from home and need the bandwidth to do that well.  Here is hoping you and I can avoid the virus entirely. Oh, and don’t forget to practice washing your hands a lot, and keeping those hands away from your face.  Were it me; I’d avoid kissing shaking hands, or any form of avoidable contact. Good luck!

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