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As I was setting up the technology in my new house, I was going through the process of configuring my new eero Pro 6E Wi-Fi network. I took the time to wipe away everything related to my existing HomeKit network, took the time to deploy a new SSID, a new password, and generally set everything up as new. As I was going through this process, I discovered eero now has an eero Internet Backup, and I again thought of how Apple could have provided a great home Wi-Fi solution and even include mobile device management integration.
About Apple @ Work: Bradley Chambers managed an enterprise IT network from 2009 to 2021. Through his experience deploying and managing firewalls, switches, a mobile device management system, enterprise grade Wi-Fi, 100s of Macs, and 100s of iPads, Bradley will highlight ways in which Apple IT managers deploy Apple devices, build networks to support them, train users, stories from the trenches of IT management, and ways Apple could improve its products for IT departments.
What is eero Internet Backup?
eero Internet Backup allows you to use a nearby mobile hotspot or Wi-Fi network as a backup connection when your wired internet goes down. Simply set up your preferred backup source and eero Internet Backup will automatically connect to it, keeping you online and able to continue streaming video, video conferencing, music streaming, or online gaming. When the internet outage ends, eero Internet Backup will automatically switch back to your original connection. This feature is available for eero Plus subscribers and select ISP and Ring Protect Pro customers
Why is internet failover a great feature when working from home?
An automatic internet failover is a great option for remote work because it allows you to continue working even if your primary internet connection goes down. This can be especially important for remote workers who rely on the internet for communication, collaboration, and other important tasks. With an automatic internet failover, you don’t have to worry about losing connectivity and can continue working without interruption. This can help you stay productive and meet deadlines, even in the event of an internet outage. In addition, an automatic internet failover can provide peace of mind, knowing that you have a backup plan in place to keep you connected if you’re on video meetings, hosting webinars, etc.
What could Apple have done?
If Apple had continued building out its home Wi-Fi solution, it could have provided a number of features for home and business users alike. For the home user, it could have leveraged Apple TV and HomePod mini as repeaters in order to blanket an entire home with Wi-Fi. Especially for Apple TVs that are hardwired on ethernet, it would have easily extended a Wi-Fi network to every corner of the house. A HomePod mini could easily provide real-time information about the health of the network, etc.
Apple could have also included a built-in internet failover tied in with iCloud, but it could have also taken in a step further and used a corporate iPhone tied to a device management system on 5G Ultra Wide Band to provide a “corporate-like” network management solution.
The challenges of remote IT and home Wi-Fi networks
Supporting the home Wi-Fi networks of remote employees can be a challenging task for IT teams. One of the main challenges is the inability to remotely monitor or see what is happening on the network with there are issues.
When employees are working in an office setting, IT teams have the ability to physically access the network and troubleshoot any issues that may arise. However, when employees are working remotely, IT teams are reliant on the employees to report any issues and provide information about their home network setup. This can make it difficult for IT teams to accurately diagnose and fix problems, as they do not have visibility into the network itself.
Another challenge is the lack of control over the home network environment. In an office setting, IT teams can ensure that the network is set up in a way that meets the needs of the organization. However, in a remote setting, employees may have different types of routers and internet service providers, which can create additional complications for IT teams.
Additionally, IT teams may not have access to the same tools and resources when supporting remote employees. For example, they may not be able to use the same monitoring or diagnostic tools that they would have access to in an office setting. This can make it more difficult for them to identify and resolve issues.
How Apple could have solved this problem
One solution that Apple could implement with a modern router solution to address the challenges of supporting remote employee home Wi-Fi networks is to connect an iPhone with 5G Ultra Wide Band to its home router solution. By using the iPhone as a “bridge” between the home network and the internet, IT teams could create a separate, dedicated Wi-Fi network for business use only.
One advantage of this approach is that it would allow IT teams to have more control over the network experience. They could set specific policies and configurations for the business Wi-Fi network, ensuring that it meets the needs of the organization. For example, they could prioritize certain types of traffic, such as video conferencing or file transfers, to ensure that these important business functions have the bandwidth they need to operate smoothly. Everything could be tightly controlled inside an MDM portal.
By creating a separate, dedicated business Wi-Fi network, IT teams could potentially have more visibility into the network itself. They could use tools like network monitoring and diagnostic software to get a better understanding of what is happening on the network and identify any issues that may arise.
Aircove router with ExpressVPN
ExpressVPN has developed Aircove, a Wi-Fi router with built-in VPN protection. With Aircove, all of your devices, including smart home devices that cannot install VPN software, can benefit from full VPN protection. Any device that is connected to the internet, such as a smart TV or voice assistant, can be protected by Aircove’s built-in VPN through Express VPN. Especially for IoT devices, this functionality is fantastic. You can put devices in specific groups and only tunnel them through the VPN while other devices are on the regular network. This tight integration between routers, devices, and security is a prime example of how other companies are innovating in the home Wi-Fi market while Apple sits on the sidelines. I discovered this router right before Christmas, and I plan to do a full review soon, but I think something with VPN integration, MDM controls, and Apple devices would be a great feature for employees who work from home.
Will Apple ever release a new home Wi-Fi network? We’ve not seen any rumors of it, but the tools are in place to do something fantastic with integration with Apple TV, HomePod mini, and iPhone with 5G Ultra Wide Band. As Amazon continues building out the eero product line with features like Echo integration (as a repeater) and failover, I hope Apple is paying attention.
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