Plenty of tech cheer ahead for 2021

WITH just six weeks until the New Year, we can all be forgiven for looking forward and hoping for better things to come. That’s certainly the case for the telecoms and tech sectors at least, where there is, believe it or not, plenty for local businesses to look forward to.

As this year ebbs to a close, it’s fair to say that even right now, we’ve never been as spoilt for choice as we are now in terms of technology, reliability, functionality, broadband speeds, access to the cloud and the myriad of remote working capabilities available.

The great news is, there is plenty more where that came from early next year.

Things are about to get even better, with even more choice, ease and cost-savings on the cards – and that’s without mentioning the growing promise of 5G.

With the clock ticking fast before older analogue and ISDN lines are finally switched off, telecoms operators are preparing to roll out more digital lines for business, replacing the nation’s copper-based network and bringing everyone up to speed in one fast fibre line that can carry voice and data at the same time and with no need for separate services or providers.

This is all part of a major UK-wide investment and overhaul in a future-proofed network capable of carrying the growing demand for data and internet usage and allowing more businesses to capture the opportunities available.

By installing a digital line, there will be no need for the plethora of separate products available, though you will need to add a VoIP product to keep you talking.

So what will this mean for you and me? Like your home phone and TV package, ‘bundling’ can be expected to become the norm. For example, businesses should be able to completely modernise their telecoms infrastructure by getting superfast fibre, a digital line or mobile phone access for one simple monthly cost which should represent great value for money. For example, the combined cost of one of these digital packages should be noticeably cheaper than a traditional phone line and broadband bought separately.

There will be more choice too, with options to suit most budgets and needs. Faults should be identified and fixed easier and speedier too because you have only one supplier.

For example, a standalone estate agency might have three separate providers covering landlines, mobiles and broadband. These new bundles will bring that under one supplier, saving precious time on administration and adding extra value.

If anything, Covid-19 has reminded us of our reliance on technology, its importance for business continuity and what it offers for future growth. The internet is now increasingly seen as the ‘fourth utility’ and for countless people, having fast and reliable broadband and a good mobile connection is as essential to our daily lives as electricity, petrol, oil or gas.

Today’s hugely challenging yet still fast-paced business environment calls for even greater flexibility, agility and resolve which is why every business needs fit-for-purpose, future-ready communication tools to meet the needs of customers, suppliers and staff.

Embracing new technologies and adopting new infrastructure is now a critical investment driven by customer demand. By getting the right kit at the front end, there’s an ocean of options and opportunities to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, promote innovation and enhance morale.

And in this current climate, we all need plenty of that.

:: Eric Carson is co-founder, owner and chair of Rainbow, Northern Ireland’s largest independent supplier of telecommunications services