BROADBAND: JUST WHAT THE DOCTOR ORDERED
There’s nothing like a global pandemic to connect our needs for both healthcare provider access and broadband. The use of telehealth technology has increased in the last 8 months as we follow social distancing guidelines and seek to perform daily tasks online at home when possible. It’s a win-win: patients aren’t exposed to waiting rooms and doctors decrease their own infection risk by reducing the foot traffic through their facilities. However, some populations are left behind. For those without broadband access, being able to reliably connect with their doctor via their phone or computer isn’t always an option. As telehealth use has expanded in the United States, so has the need for reliable broadband access. While others race for a vaccine, the telecommunications industry is racing for connectivity.
Telehealth services aren’t possible without access to a computer or other mobile devices and a reliable internet connection. For people in low-income and rural areas, this presents a problem. Many experience issues obtaining reliable internet access because of a lack of infrastructure and funding. It’s the same reasons these populations are experiencing barriers to virtual learning. Even if you have reliable internet, you may be experiencing slower speeds due to increased demand. With so many people still working, learning, and shopping from home, it’s a huge demand on our existing networks. So, what is the solution?
Increasing broadband access through fiber cable and 5G can help bridge the divide and ensure those already connected experience the network speeds they need. Why fiber and 5G? 5G capable antennas provide faster data speeds and a higher capacity, allowing more devices to be online at the same time and enabling mobile devices to be the prime point of reliable contact between healthcare providers and patients. Fiber cable buildouts enable 5G networks and expand broadband service.
Various carriers are currently implementing 5G buildouts by updating their transmission infrastructure with new cell towers and antennas. 5G capable antennas are being placed on cell towers and utility poles, creating a denser network and making it easier for us all to stay connected. Our Foresite Group team has been working on various small cell projects to help build a denser network for carriers across the United States. The installation of more fiber optic cable by internet service providers is also helping to increase internet speeds and expand broadband service.
As we move so many parts of our lives online, broadband access is essential. And during a pandemic, safe and reliable access to medical providers is even more so. COVID-19 has showcased the power of technology by allowing us to stay connected. As telehealth technology further advances, so will the need for reliable broadband infrastructure that can withstand new demands.
About Foresite Group
Foresite Group is a multidisciplinary engineering, planning, and consulting firm providing services to public and private sector clients nationwide. Our team’s collaborative process results in creative products and services that help our clients achieve their goals. Our team takes pride in enhancing and developing the cities and communities where we live, work, and raise our families.