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The Fourth Industrial Revolution, characterised by digitalisation, the Internet of Things (IoT), big data and the ever-increasing, global use of social media are just some of the things that have taken the world by storm. One common component, present throughout, is connectivity. We are part of a generation that has adopted the term “plugged in”, and to further unlock the true potential of internet connectivity, our means of connectivity needs to keep up. 

Innovative solutions such as big data computing, cloud applications and storage, and even company social media page management all require reliable, high-speed internet connectivity, the likes that far out-perform what dial-up was once considered capable of handling. Whether it’s at home, or at the office – we are constantly sending and receiving large amounts of data, the figures just keep on rising.

Yes, we’re knocking on the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s door, but what happens when that door creaks open? Which, at the rate that we’re going at, is an inevitable occurrence determined only by the factor of time. For businesses, the demand for faster, more efficient service offerings will only grow. And to be successful – businesses will need to answer those calls, and not only meet those demands, but also surpass them.

Broader digitisation

The key to unlocking broader, easier, more efficient and faster operations lies in fibre. Fibre optic broadband internet connectivity will unlock a world of opportunity for SMEs. It will pave the path for us to connect even more things to the internet, giving rise to uncharted IoT territory and set a direction for us, as a connected society, to venture further down the road to digitalisation.

Internet service providers and telco’s are hard at work, connecting both small and large businesses to the opportunities made possible through fibre connectivity. That’s not to say that they aren’t faced with the odd challenge here and there. Obstacles such as limited capillarity, time to deploy and cost of infrastructure. The focus now is expanding fibre connectivity to smaller cities, and not just larger metropolitans and even leveraging 3rd party infrastructure.

It’s safe to say, though, that the benefits truly outweigh the challenges and that the opportunities that lie ahead are worth the wait. That’s looking well beyond reliable connectivity, the durability of fibre optic cables and the flawless data transfer, but rather focusing on how fibre will allow businesses to fully transition into the digital era.

There of course are other alternatives to fibre optics, the likes of fixed wireless connectivity leveraging technologies such as licensed and unlicensed microwave, 4G/LTE and even satellite, many of which offer suitable alternatives depending on the business requirement. It’s become less a matter of the technology itself, and more about what works when it comes to the topic of broader digitalisation.

By Gary Hart, Executive Head: Network and UC Services for Vodacom Business    

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