What a Recent Blackout Confirmed to Me about WiFi

Written by Danny Mareco Danny Mareco | July 20, 2017 | Read Time: 5 mins

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There’s a classic song by the band Cinderella that I’m sure we’ve all heard before…maybe. The song I’m referring to is titled, “You don’t know what you got (Till It’s Gone)” and that was definitely the case for me the other night.

Shortly after dinner, I was just settling in to enjoy a craft beer and a movie when literally out of nowhere, everything shuts off. My TV, my receiver, my Xbox One, and worst of all my central air. It was about 85 degrees outside at 8pm so I knew this was potentially going to be bad.

In hopes that the problem was localized to my house, I checked the breakers, however, I wasn’t that lucky and everything was normal. I texted my sister who lives down the street to find out if she had lost power as well, yep, she did.

Not willing to give up hope just yet, I got on my iPhone (using LTE not my Wi-Fi) to check the power company’s website to see if they had released any information.

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Sure enough, the power in my neighborhood and surrounding areas was out—the estimated time for “restoration” as they put it, midnight.

Instead of settling in for a little R&R, I found myself settling in for a blackout.

My heart sank, I mean I still had beer but now all my plans for the evening had been ruined.

As I sat there, watching the sun quickly set behind a row of houses, I realized not having power had created a few more problems that hadn't occurred to me.

First, I had only 37% battery power left on my phone, so streaming videos was probably out of the question if I wanted to conserve my ability to make calls, check the status on the power outage, or have a flashlight (I did manage to find one candle).

Second, because of the blackout, my WiFi was down, and while LTE isn’t too bad (depending on a few variables), my performance capabilities to surf anything had been compromised.

And finally, everything in my fridge was in jeopardy of going bad—oh, and my beer was getting warm.

So, without power here’s a recap of my situation:

  • I didn’t have lights
  • I couldn’t open my fridge
  • I couldn’t charge my phone
  • I couldn’t watch my movie
  • and I didn’t have WiFi

As dusk turned into night and I sat there in the dark (I hadn’t found the candle just yet), I started to think about how this same problem of not having power and consequently not having WiFi, confirmed what I already knew to be true about wireless connectivity.

**Before I get into it, I need to make a small disclaimer. Although I’m referencing my experience at home, in no way is residential wireless the same as an enterprise level wireless network. The only correlation between the two is that both are critical services today.

Okay, back to what this blackout confirmed.

How we use WiFi has changed

I’ve experienced blackouts many times throughout my life, and what’s consistent about all of the previous times is that wireless access was either not there or simply not as important.

The reason why has to do with how we use WiFi today.

First, the devices we use to access the internet or network resources (to do our jobs etc.) have changed and are continuing to evolve at a rapid pace (every 6 months if you’re like me to on average 12-18 months).

At my house, I have at least 5 different types of devices that require wireless connectivity to function and that’s just my house. Many businesses, through things like BYOD and the IoT, will have to support a lot more types of devices than just five.

Second, with new devices comes an ever-growing list of new applications, from streaming video, social media and business applications like Salesforce, to communications apps like Skype and location services such as asset tracking or emergency notifications.

WiFi powers almost everything we need both personally and professionally these days, and all signs point to this only increasing over-time.

Secure WiFi is a utility

Like power, wireless has become a fundamental utility that every business requires to operate today. For a long time, wireless networks were thought of as a “luxury” or “nice-to-have” system at your business, but as the way we use wireless has evolved and our dependency on it has grown over the years this way of thinking has become obsolete.

Across every industry, from healthcare and hospitality to K-12, warehousing and everything in between, businesses of all shapes and sizes requires wireless to properly operate.

For example, at SecurEdge, we rely on various cloud-based applications and software that’s hosted by 3rd party companies like Amazon to operate, if the WiFi goes down, we go down—and many other businesses are in this same boat.

Sitting there in the dark, without power and without WiFi, the thought of having no options to do what I needed or wanted to do was terrible, and I could only imagine what this would be like for a business.

The fact is, like power, no business can afford downtime or to experience wifi performance problems; wireless is a mission-critical service and it needs to be treated like all your other utilities going forward.

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Closing thoughts

As midnight came and went and I still didn’t have power, I figured it was probably time to just go to bed, hoping that when I woke up the next morning the world I once knew would be back to normal.

Fortunately, it was…and I was beyond thankful.

You really don’t know what you have until it’s gone, and when it goes, if you realize you can’t survive without it, then that’s probably a good indication of how important that something is.

In my case, losing power and my wireless access helped to confirm that wireless has finally reached the point where we just can’t live or work without it anymore.

If you would like to figure out how much it will cost to deploy a new secure WiFi system or upgrade an existing one, check out our pricing page to compare packages and find out what's included. 

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