Why the Public Internet Isn’t Enough in the Age of Remote Work

May 27, 2021By Subspace Team

TL;DR

The demand for great internet service has been at an all-time high since work and schools moved online—and many businesses will make this change permanent. As these demands grow, internet service providers are rushing to push new capacity out, but this capacity still focuses on quantity (megabits per second) and not quality (latency and jitter). This proves that the public internet, as it stands, was not designed for the high demand we are currently seeing, meaning that it’s unable to deliver on what remote workers and students truly need. However, Subspace helps to change this reality. Whether it’s used for studying, gaming, or working from home, Subspace has built a “weather map of the internet” that knows the fastest paths for routing real-time application traffic, because all types of customers need the lowest latency connections that only Subspace can deliver.

Estimated read time: 5 minutes


The Growth of Work from Home (WFH)

When it first emerged, work from home (WFH) was seen as a growing trend—but it quickly cooled as the easiest roles had been transitioned home while the remaining roles stayed in the office because of perceived difficulties, often technical. But COVID-19 forever changed that, forcing many entire workforces into a temporary WFH arrangement. Many of those workers will continue to work from home even beyond the pandemic, as 55% of employees in one survey prefer to be at home at least three days a week. All in all, many find remote work to be a success.

The stark reality many faced, however, was that the internet infrastructure they had relied on for years practically collapsed under the weight of all of these new at-home workers and their critical communications applications. The internet was never designed for this type of application, and the pandemic showed us all just how limited the internet was.

The Internet Never Envisioned Mass WFH Initiatives

Most ISPs didn’t do enough capacity planning for WFH; in most cases, the assumption was that during the regular workday demand at home would be low, and there were economic benefits from overprovisioning circuits.

Making matters worse, the infrastructure that was deployed focused on a volumetric model in which moving blocks of data was all that mattered, and the varying degrees of latency were all basically invisible to the end users. But WFH stresses these systems because the demand for real-time applications, live video, and voiceover IP is becoming a significant portion of ISP traffic. For example, Zoom, a provider of videoconferencing, saw a 370% increase in business in 2020 alone.

For ISPs, the approach was quantity over quality because megabits per second is an easier SLA to maintain and the numbers are easier for the average user to understand. The real measures of quality for real-time applications like video and voice are latency (ping time) and jitter (variance in that latency.) Maintaining these metrics was far more difficult, so ISPs tended to shy away from promoting them.

As demand for services grew with WFH, ISPs rushed new capacity out, but this capacity still focused on quantity (megabits per second) and not quality (latency and jitter). While consumers saw their ISPs touting new upgrades, they still had the same quality issues that plagued them previously.

Further complicating the massive increase in WFH was the fact that schools also moved online, many utilizing Zoom as well. Online learning became the most popular education trend as 1.2 billion students moved out of the classroom and online. Now WFH employees were not only competing with their neighbors for internet services but also with their own children as video and voice applications suffered even more.

There is an old Japanese proverb: “when all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” This volumetric approach by ISPs has left users of real-time applications out in the cold. Only 65% of today’s users believe they have an adequate internet experience for WFH, leaving up to a third struggling and in need of a better solution.

Additional Challenges Are Mounting Back at the Office

Moving all of these employees out of the office was a significant challenge for companies. In the past, an enterprise virtual private network (VPN) connected employees to their email and intranet files. Today they need video, VoIP, chat, and other collaboration tools shared with coworkers worldwide. It was hard enough for IT to support these real-time applications within their own firewall, but having to deal with ISP limitations on top has made it even worse.

With more WFH employees, security becomes a larger issue for companies; real-time applications create new active security risks, and ISPs’ many reactive tools and procedures cannot keep pace and provide the level of protection that businesses need.

WFH has become a permanent fixture, and it is unlikely that offices will return to pre-pandemic work styles, so businesses must address this immediately.

Subspace Changes Working from Home

Founded with the premise that internet traffic for real-time applications could be dramatically improved, Subspace has created a parallel internet that is tailored to the needs of this new WFH and virtual learning world. A parallel internet is so much more than just pathfinding. It’s a deeper solution targeted specifically at real-time applications.

WFH has amazing parallels in both the geographic nature of users (at home) and the real-time application needs. Using all the real-time traffic on its network, Subspace has weather-mapped how internet traffic moves and knows the fastest paths for routing real-time application traffic because both types of customers need the lowest-latency connections that only Subspace can deliver. When congestion or outages are encountered, Subspace can re-route in milliseconds to continue moving real-time traffic in the fastest possible way.

By providing a parallel internet with infrastructure in hundreds of cities on a global scale, Subspace is able to provide better quality through a more reliable and stable network connection that delivers lower latency, less jitter, and better in-order packet delivery. Since it has already delivered success with the product in real-world environments, Subspace is in a unique position to change WFH for the better through its tested and proven model.

ISP efforts based on the old paradigm of pushing volumes of packets instead of driving better quality will fail. This is not just about a change in technology; it is about understanding that the game has changed, and Subspace has built a network stack that understands this new reality. Those that embrace it will take the lead, while others will fall further behind.

SIPTeleport is a Global SIP Proxy for the lowest latency voice and video calls. Subspace GlobalTURN allows you to run TURN globally without having to maintain servers around the world. And with RTPSpeed, we provide the highest quality voice and video steaming (via a global RTP proxy) the internet has ever seen; all products include in-line, zero latency DDoS protection.

See the Difference for Yourself

Sign up and try Subspace for free to understand how our solutions can better enable work from home and distance learning. The workplace has changed forever, and if you aren’t in front of the needs of real-time applications, you’re already behind.


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