HOME schooling and working from home is putting pressure on many families juggling children and careers during lockdown.
Throw-in poor internet connection, and unreliable digital connectivity, and it’s a perfect storm for some families struggling to cope.
A new report says it can be even worse for many living in rural areas stuck with slow broadband speeds.
But a technology specialist which recently bought an IT solutions firm says there can be some simple solutions to help families.
Eco Communications, which bought Integrity Office Limited at the end of 2020, says its combined team can offer advice and help.
Keith Redden, Eco Comms mobile sales manager, said: “The solution is likely to be different, given the individual circumstances people find themselves in.
“We hear from a lot of people who are struggling to cope, especially in households where there are different demands such as children streaming lessons from school and parents trying to work from home.
“But if you’ve got a good mobile signal then something as simple as a 4G MiFi mobile router can provide the solution,” said Keith.
MiFi uses a smartphone’s mobile data connection to establish a wireless signal which compatible devices can share to get online. It means that wherever you can get a phone signal, you can use MiFi connection to create a wireless network and get online from any Wi-Fi device.
Keith said: “Another advantage of MiFi routers is that they are portable as well so you can take it with you. That might not be a priority for people right now during lockdown. But once restrictions start to ease again, you can take it with you anywhere you go such as on holiday or in the car so you can get good connectivity anywhere where there’s a good mobile signal.
“When it comes to cost there are different packages available, but you can get a MiFi router for about £60 and then choose the package which suits you.
“Anyone who is having problems and is interested in finding a solution we would encourage to give us a call and we can discuss the best solution for their circumstances.”
Stephen Whelan, Technical Manager for Integrity Office Ltd, which is based in Carlisle and is now part of the Eco group and specialises in supporting small and medium sized businesses with IT solutions, says it’s a similar story for the business sector.
With many business leaders working from home, bosses are wanting to ensure that they have the same connectivity and access to work systems for themselves and their teams that they would have if they are working from the office.
Stephen said: “There are a whole range of solutions available to businesses whether that’s for individuals who need to gain full access to their office systems to those where there’s a more simple solution.
“Whatever the circumstances there is always a solution and we would encourage people to talk to us about their particular circumstances.
“They might have been putting off talking to someone about it because they thought they would be back in their offices sooner and now they are thinking they are going to be working from home until at least March, or because they think it’s going to involve a significant investment.
“But there is often a more cost-efficient and time-efficient solution so we would encourage any SME to give us a call.”
Digital connectivity has been high on the agenda across the UK during the latest lockdown with home schooling and working from home causing technical, and financial headaches for many families.
Earlier this month, The Public Accounts Committee criticised the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for not being prepared to admit sooner it would not meet a Conservative election pledge of gigabit broadband connectivity across the entire country by 2025.
In the November 2020 Spending Review the Government revealed it was rowing back on the target, aiming for at least 85% instead.
That original target was “unachievable”, MPs said in their Improving Broadband report, calling for a “clear timeline” of what activities the department intends to complete and by when.
Meg Hillier, chair of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “With the country and economy locked down, the Government’s promises on digital connectivity are more important than ever.
“For the foreseeable future, more of our lives are moving online. Government cannot allow digital inequality to continue to compound and exacerbate the economic inequality that has been so harshly exposed in the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It needs to be clear about timelines in each area so that businesses and individuals can plan for their digital future.”