According to Cisco’s global survey of almost 60,000 workers across 30 countries about their home broadband access, quality and usage, economic and societal growth will not happen without universal access to fast and reliable internet.
Hybrid work depends on quality Internet
The success of hybrid work hinges on the quality and availability of the internet, according to the report: 75% of workers say broadband services need to dramatically improve to support this new way of working. Almost eight out of ten workers (78%) surveyed say the reliability and quality of broadband connections is important to them. Dependence on high-performance internet access is underlined by the fact that eight out of ten respondents (84%) actively use their broadband at home for four hours or more each day. Meanwhile three or more people use the internet at the same time in 60% of households.
Many teleworkers need more than a basic level of connectivity to support their livelihoods. To address the demands on their broadband connection, almost half of those surveyed (43%) are planning to upgrade their internet service in the next 12 months.
"Secure, high-quality, reliable internet is critical to make hybrid work successful," said Jonathan Davidson, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Mass-Scale Infrastructure Group, Cisco. "We are working closely with our global service provider customers to change the economics of the internet and help them reimagine internet infrastructure to make it better and more accessible to connect more people and businesses who rely on it."
Particularly critical for SMEs
Nearly half (48%) of the workforce now relies on their home internet to work from home or run their own business. This is especially critical for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), that do not have the same resources and IT infrastructure of larger enterprises. A new digital business environment has emerged where ambitious entrepreneurs and start-ups can prosper, fostering innovation across industries.
According to the World Bank, SMEs represent about 90% of businesses and more than 50% of employment worldwide. In emerging markets, SMEs create seven out of ten jobs. Broadband will therefore play a key role in the growth and evolution of this core business category.
Security is vital
Currently, to work-from-anywhere, employees need to connect to their company's networks and applications from outside the office, accessing private data across multiple locations, through multiple devices, via public and private networks. Workers are becoming increasingly aware that safety and security, as well as speed and reliability, will be vital to the success of hybrid working. More than half of people who work remotely (full time or hybrid) would pay more to ensure they have a safe broadband connection.
Bridging the digital divide
Beyond the business world, improving the quality of access to the internet has a far broader impact on the economy and society. Three out of four respondents believe having access to fast and reliable internet is critical to future economic growth, and a well-educated population. A similar share (78%) demands everyone to be able to securely connect to fast and reliable internet, regardless of location.
"As of today, more than 40% of the world still remains unconnected. The inability to connect those roughly 3.4 billion people over the next 10 years risks widening the digital divide even more," said Guy Diedrich, SVP & Global Innovation Officer. "As business leaders and technologists, we must help the rising tide of the digital age lift all ships; time is of the essence."
Data from the Cisco Broadband Index survey underscores concerns regarding the digital divide: 65% of respondents say access to affordable and reliable broadband will become a major issue for people, as connectivity becomes even more vital for access to job and educational opportunities. More than half (58%) say they were unable to access critical services such as online medical appointments, online education, social care and utility services during lockdown, due to an unreliable broadband connection.
Partnering for digital inclusion
The critical need for universal broadband presents a big opportunity for governments and industries to work together and take action:75% of respondents would like to see governments accelerate plans to ensure high-speed and reliable internet is available to everyone. Governments can establish broadband policies and programs that encourage competition, drive internet investments, and expand its reach. Employers can support their workforce by adopting the right technology for their hybrid work model. Service providers can partner with governments to develop programs that address the needs of the unserved or underserved and adopt new ways of networking to power the 'Internet for the Future' that will meet demand.