Originally Appearing in Wi-Fi Forward, June 18 2020
This Saturday is World Wi-Fi Day — a day in which we recognize the countless benefits and accomplishments of a technology that most of us use every day. This year, World Wi-Fi Day comes as changes from COVID-19 seep across our culture and economy in ways no one could have envisioned just a few months ago. Across the globe, people have been forced to adapt to new ways of doing things — at home, at work and at school. One thing that makes this possible is fast and available Wi-Fi.
Telehealth has been a fast-growing part of the healthcare industry for most of the past decade, and Wi-Fi supports much of this critical practice. While many medical practices were already utilizing Wi-Fi in hospitals and doctors' offices, some were slow to adopt, especially in states where insurance laws kept down reimbursements for virtual visits. This year, it seemed every doctor was encouraging patients to connect online. It's safer for everyone — not just in a time of COVID-19 — but when dealing with any contagious illness or with patients with mobility challenges. Many more patients now realize there's no need to go to a doctor's office when there is a much easier way to "visit" the doctor using your home internet connectivity — keeping more patients out of the hospital and reducing the risk of infection.
With the onset of COVID-19, teachers and professors at every level were forced to rejigger their curricula to an online format. But as they adapted, many reported new benefits to distance learning. Beyond ensuring the health of students and faculty, students gained flexibility and can now attend class from virtually anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection. Wi-Fi has opened the door for new and creative ways of learning and has made school possible in this critical time.
When COVID-19 shut down offices across the U.S. in mid-March, companies scrambled to find new and innovative ways to stay connected and productive; many turned to wireless internet. Wi-Fi allows employees to collaborate remotely from the safety of their own homes using Zoom, email, and countless other web-based applications. Home Wi-Fi allows businesses to adapt quickly to the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic, assuring companies the ability to continue to serve their customers, all while ensuring their employee's safety.
Wi-Fi has helped society and the economy adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic. Aside from assisting in the continuation of critical functions like healthcare and education, Wi-Fi is keeping friends and family connected at a time when keeping in touch with loved ones is more important than ever. These alterations to the fabric of our lives would have been far less efficient had a pandemic struck with the ethernet connections of a decade ago. The past several months have proven the utility and value of unlicensed spectrum in an increasingly virtual world. So, on this World Wi-Fi Day, let's look at what we have learned these past few months and ponder how we can move forward together in a world connected by Wi-Fi that connects us in ways few thought possible.