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Digital Networks to Combat COVID-19

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We discuss the following topics in this blog:

  1. Essentials during the pandemic
  2. Relationship Between the Binaries of Digital Networks and These Services

In addition to these topics, we shall also be answering the following FAQs:

  1. What is WiFi?
  2. What is Open RAN?

What are the Three Essentials During the Pandemic?

A Guest knocks on the door without prior intimation, so did Covid-19. No one was prepared for this outbreak and the lockdown measures that followed.

Humans don’t know, how to live in a lockdown, we have never done it before. But after a good month and a half, we can now confidently say that we know what is essential and what is discretionary!

The top 3 essentials without which our locked-down lives won’t be possible:

  • Food
  • Healthcare,
  • Work

They are completely distinct needs. But if we were to look at the one common thing which is enabling this, it would be –Digital Networks.

Competent digital networks are the need of the hour. With digital networks, around 51% of the world population that is more than 3.8 billion people are connected through the Internet to make this essentials – practical

What’s the Relationship Between the Binaries of Digital Networks and These Services?

Food and digital networks – OLD FRIENDS: We have been glued on to all the food delivery and ecommerce apps (need we name them? – Big Basket, Grofers, Swiggy…..) since quite sometime now. But it is only now, that they have become indispensable. And a discerning user would imagine that the thousands of vendors, riders, kitchens and millions of customers are connected real-time using some millions of simple transactions such as an order update or again – millions of complex ones as real time location updates. We need no more anecdotes of this old friendship between to realise that digital networks are literally keeping us well stocked and fed at these times!!

Healthcare Services and digital networks – Would be friends: Even before the Covid and the lockdown, we were embracing online healthcare facilities such as an on-call doctor, online medicine delivery, and so on. We can say that healthcare services and digital networks were acquaintances till now, but now they need to be the best of friends. And they are trying – We see newer healthcare + technology use cases such as contract tracing, our very own Aarogyasetu app and so on. But we want to see this friendship blossom. The world needs a healthcare system which is supported by the best of networks and technology so that we are able to tackle these situations in future. We are already imagining big leaps like 24X7 wearable technology to check vitals and a technology backbone to provide real time medical care to those in need.

Work from home and digital networks – Soul-mates who just found each other – With the lockdown now almost a part of our lives, we all are restricted at homes but work cannot stop. Work from home / virtually is an idea whose time has come. This potential was always there; many companies were sceptical. Now we can so imagine this becoming a new way of life. Infact, many companies have adopted work from policies. Some major giants such as TCS have announced to continue work from home for75% of their total employees for minimum 2 years post-Covid-19. With all this, the demands on the home networks are the first thing that we need to think about. If networks Underperform, so will businesses. Hence digital networks need to become competent. We need FTTx to reach millions of homes and this is a disruption that is waiting to happen- as we said WFH and digital networks are soul-mates which have just found each other!


What is WiFi?

Put simply, WiFi is a technology that uses radio waves to create a wireless network through which devices like mobile phones, computers, printers, etc., connect to the internet. A wireless router is needed to establish a WiFi hotspot that people in its vicinity may use to access internet services. You’re sure to have encountered such a WiFi hotspot in houses, offices, restaurants, etc.

To get a little more technical, WiFi works by enabling a Wireless Local Area Network or WLAN that allows devices connected to it to exchange signals with the internet via a router. The frequencies of these signals are either 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz bandwidths. These frequencies are much higher than those transmitted to or by radios, mobile phones, and televisions since WiFi signals need to carry significantly higher amounts of data. The networking standards are variants of 802.11, of which there are several (802.11a, 802.11b, 801.11g, etc.).

What is Open RAN?

From a deployment standpoint, we have Non-Standalone Mode(NSA), Dynamic Spectrum Sharing(DSS), and Standalone Mode (SA). The initial deployments of 5G NR are based on NSA standards, meaning the existing 4G LTE network will operate on the control plane, and 5G NR will be introduced to the user plane.

This particular standard was introduced by 3GPP, keeping in mind the industry’s push to faster 5G services rollout while utilizing the existing 4G LTE infrastructure currently in place. On the other hand, operators are also implementing Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) to accelerate the deployment cycle, which will reduce costs and improve spectrum utilization. In this standard, the same spectrum is shared between the 5G NR and 4G LTE, multiplexing over time per user demands. Lastly, we have the Standalone Mode (SA), which moves towards a complete 5G based network where both signaling and the information transfer are driven by a 5G cell.

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