With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing billions of people around the world into different states of lockdown, the demand being placed on internet networks has skyrocketed. More people are at home than ever before—streaming movies, telecommuting, connecting to corporate VPNs, and attending video meetings—and some online services are starting to strain under the extra pressure. Internet providers, too, are feeling the heat.
In Europe, Vodafone has reported a 50% rise in internet usage in some countries, while Netflix and YouTube have gone so far as to reduce their streaming bit rates in an effort to ease the strain on networks.
If your customers are calling and complaining about slower speeds or even interrupted service, here’s some suggestions on how to help.
First, be transparent
Don’t try to sugarcoat the issue or put a positive spin on it. Start by explaining the problem at hand: Worldwide, networks are struggling to keep up with the increased demand generated by so many people working, studying, and quarantining at home. Tasks like streaming movies, connecting to a corporate VPN, and attending virtual video meetings use up a lot of bandwidth.
Second, assess their needs
Slowdowns will impact different customers in different ways, so ask those who call in about their situation and their needs. Are they working from home, or are they simply spending more time at home because of an order to quarantine? Do they also have kids at home who need to engage in online learning?
Finally, offer solutions
For those who aren’t working from home, there are some simple solutions that might do the trick. For instance, you can suggest they disconnect devices from their home Wi-Fi network that aren’t used very often, such as an old tablet or rarely used smart speaker. Another simple trick is to go into your settings on a service such as Netflix and slightly lower the playback quality. This can have a big impact on service stability.
For those who are working or studying from home, the demands might be more data-intense. Take the opportunity to educate them on the benefits of fiber optic, focusing on how the increased bandwidth will make things like video conferencing with coworkers or study groups smoother and more stable.
You should also suggest they try a wired connection using an Ethernet cable, as opposed to relying on Wi-Fi. A good tie-in here would be to outline the benefits of structured wiring in the home, with dedicated Ethernet cabling run to several rooms. This way their home office can be far from the router, but they can still take advantage of a higher bandwidth Ethernet connection.