Gigabit Home Networks and At-Home Agents

Much work has been done recently to bring lightning fast, broadband networks to homes. A quick Google search on "gigabit broadband" returns over 362,000 results with the top articles discussing Google’s work in launching their gigabit network in Kansas City (much to the chagrin of thousand other towns that vied for the project, including my own town of Fishers, Indiana).

In looking further, you’ll also find that Comcast is well on their way to launching the same gigabit broadband to their cable subscribers. But the news doesn’t end there. In looking deeper, you’ll find the gigabit broadband is already making its way around the world and is currently being offered in Japan and Hong Kong, with BT to launch theirs sometime during fall of this year.

So, just how fast is a gigabit broadband connection? At the NCTA Conference in Chicago on June 16th, Comcast CEO Brian Roberts demonstrated how fast a gigabit broadband connection can download 23 episodes of "30 Rock", almost 9 hours worth of video. Total time? About a minute and a half! Now that’s fast.

Just what could you do with that type of bandwidth?

Clearly, playing video is at the top of the list. No longer will streaming video be necessary. Instead, you can download your HD version of the latest Harry Potter movie in just about the same amount of time that it has taken you to read this far in my blog.

But since my area of expertise is in telephony and the contact center, let’s turn the discussion to the work-at-home agent. How does a gigabit broadband benefit them? Well, here are a few ideas, but I’d really like to hear from you:

  • Clearly, for those contact centers supporting video the bigger pipe means those same agents that traditionally had to remain at the brick and mortar of the contact center can now be moved at home. Granted, there are other concerns surrounding this (security, home environment, etc.) but technology won’t be one of them.
  • Voice quality becomes a non-issue for VoIP deployments. Today, most contact centers deploying at-home-agents still rely upon the land lines to route audio traffic out to the agent’s home. Many choose not to deploy VoIP phones or soft phones for fear of degradation of voice quality. With gigabit networks, this would eliminate this problem completely. Some hardware manufacturers also have home gigabit gateways that will separate voice and application data to ensure voice quality.
  • Access to customer data would be lightning fast, just as if sitting on the corporate internal network. CRM apps, whether browser-based or not, would pop with no delay which would lead to improved customer service.

What do you think? Do you currently deploy work-at-home agents? Could they take advantage of a gigabit broadband? If so, I’d like to know how.

Tim Passios