Working from Home Tests Internet, Creates Opportunities for Telecom, Technology Providers as 74% Now Use More Videoconferencing

By April 26, 2020Our Ideas

Working from Home Tests Internet, Creates Opportunities for Service Providers, as 74% Now Use More Videoconferencing

COVID-19 has spread rapidly across the globe, reaching nearly every nation and costing tens of thousands of lives so far. While protecting public health is the clear priority in this pandemic, there has already been an unprecedented impact on the global economy including Telecommunications, Media, and Technology (TMT).

 Altman Vilandrie & Company clients have asked us over the last couple of months for our views on the near- and long-term impacts of this crisis. We will be sharing some of those views over the next several weeks, including analyses of survey data on consumer and business trends created by work from home restrictions and other factors. Past entries include an overview of TMT trends and a look at what sports fans are doing to fill the void left by the professional sports blackout.

Fast Facts:

  • 318 million people live in states with business or social distancing requirements
  • 74% of at-home workers now videoconferencing more
  • 43% of at-home workers reporting more home internet slowdowns
  • Only 10% of at-home workers cite poor internet services as top pain point; 32% cite family/childcare distractions
  • 40% will use more videoconferencing after COVID-19 than before the virus restrictions hit, 27% will continue to use online collaboration tools
  • 33% plan to work from home more than after COVID-19 than before, while 17% say the opposite

With more Americans working from home than ever before due to COVID-19, workers are becoming more reliant on home internet, with three in four at-home workers using more video conferencing, according to a new survey released today by Altman Vilandrie & Company. The survey, conducted in April, reveals opportunities and challenges for home internet, mobile, and technology service providers as the social distancing and business restrictions continue.

Approximately 318 million Americans live in states with business closures or restrictions, forcing workers and employers to change Work From Home (WFH) policies and capabilities on the fly. The biggest change has come in video conferencing: the survey reveals that 74% of remote workers now more frequently use conferencing software like Zoom and Skype. This trend, and surges streaming video usage, has put more strain on home internet services, with 43% of at-home workers reporting more slowdowns since the beginning of the COVID-19 stay-at-home measures. To a lesser degree, mobile networks are also strained as some consumers still use mobile internet at home (24% reported slowdown).

“While clearly secondary to public health concerns, the unprecedented mass migration from the traditional office to the home has its challenges,” said Altman Vilandrie & Company Principal Mat Grudzien. “But the fixed and mobile internet structure has held up pretty well and providers now have the opportunity to rethink their strategies and create upside opportunities in the long run.”

Grudzien noted that while reports of outages were up, it wasn’t registering as a major concern: only 10% at-home workers named “slow or unreliable internet” as the top WFH pain point, an equal percentage to those concerned over a lack of dedicated home office space. The top WFH pain point was family distractions (32%), driven in large part by widespread school closures.While COVID-19 is changing how people use their home internet and pushing them to evaluate their internet plans, a great deal of uncertainty remains: 37% of surveyed respondents didn’t yet know if they want to keep or change their existing plan as a result of COVID-19. Of the remaining population that had an opinion, nearly one-third were planning to change their plan – a high amount for a relatively stable industry. However, not all this switching will have a negative impact on telecom operators, as only 31% of that group is considering spending less or cancelling their service.
“With special deals and improvements to speed and reliability, providers can tap into a growing reliance on connectivity,” said Altman Vilandrie & Company Principal Matt Del Percio. “If the work restrictions and school closures continue into the fall, more consumers may feel the need to adapt and upgrade their home internet or mobile services.”

Moving forward, the survey findings indicate work trends from COVID-19 will solidify even after the social distancing and work restrictions are lifted. The survey shows that 40% believe they will use video conferencing post-COVID-19 more than they did pre-COVID-19, with 27% expressing a similar belief about using online collaboration tools like SharePoint. Not one respondent said they would use those technologies less often in the future. The responses were more mixed for working from home after the work restrictions are lifted, with 33% saying they will work remotely more post-COVID-19 than they did pre-COVID-19, and 16% predicting they will do it less often.“There’s a lot of evidence that some of these WFH habits created by social distancing will have real stickiness,” said Grudzien. “Telecom operators should first prioritize investment in their network and digital channels to make sure they can support this shift, but there is a long-term opportunity here to be more creative in how they cater to this new class of at-home workers. Concepts like ‘no touch’ installation and WFH bundling of services and software applications are now in play for whatever the ‘new normal’ looks like after COVID-19.”

The survey, led by Grudzien and Del Percio, polled 803 U.S. consumers from April 4-6, 2020.

Mat Grudzien

Matt Del Percio