Broadband tech support in a social distancing world

March 30, 2020
It is not a surprise that residential broadband usage is soaring due to the realities of social distancing, quarantine, and working from home. In the week after the CDC declared COVID-19 ...

It is not a surprise that residential broadband usage is soaring due to the realities of social distancing, quarantine, and working from home.

In the week after the CDC declared COVID-19 a pandemic, business-hours broadband consumption increased by 41%, according to OpenVault. In addition, Nielsen has estimated that there could be an increase in consumption of streaming video.

Cable operators large and small are adding or expanding remote care and tech support options to protect their workers and customers, and to help reduce the spread of disease.

In response, OpenVault announced its "Distance Diagnostics and Remote Care" suite of tools for device diagnosis, WiFi network health, access network health, real-time power usage identification and bandwidth management.

"As (customers) discover that their current service bundles or their home networks don't support their increased needs, they're turning to operators to resolve newly discovered issues. Our suite is designed to keep field techs out of harm's way while they optimize online experiences, improving public safety and consumer satisfaction," said Mark Trudeau, CEO and founder of OpenVault.

The suite addresses visibility inside the home, allowing operators to diagnose Internet issues without dispatching a field technician. When a subscriber calls, the representative has access to information needed to determine and possibly fix the issue, via a single window on the computer.

"There could be one of a dozen issues causing slow Internet. Many issues don't require a truck or a field technician. (There is) nothing a field tech could do to help service the customer if (the problem) is network congestion," Trudeau said.

The OpenVault suite is 100% cloud-based. The company works with the operator to determine what elements, like modems, are on the network, and issue the commands that push the data to OpenVault's system.

"(This) lends itself to being able to deploy very quickly," Trudeau said. "We can literally be up and running in a day."

With the pandemic, the networks are being relied on even more for critical applications like telemedicine. "(Network health) is an imperative issue to focus on," Trudeau said. "(Operators) are doing everything they can to make sure they have transparency …. We are getting a lot of interest in using our tools."

Another issue customers face is not having a bandwidth plan in place that meets their growing needs, based on everyone in a household being home. Subscribers are calling in complaining that their Internet is slow, and the solution could be a need for a change in plan.

"We are not yet at the peak of impact of this situation. My own kids didn't start college classes online until this week. We already have seen Monday to Wednesday's (March 23-25) data traffic far outweighed (the previous week)," Trudeau said.

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