Friday, January 14, 2011

Setting up to telecommute for more than one contract or for self and other employers, can be tricky

With more people telecommuting, and more people doing contract work over the Internet from home, keeping assets (connections, content) from becoming intermingled becomes critical.

I can remember back in the 1990s it was common for people to log on to a corporate mainframe through Procomm from home PC’s.  Gradually, it became important for employers to issue laptops for work from home to avoid the possibility of PII or confidential data winding up on employee’s personal computers.  This is a much bigger issue today that it had been imagined to be fifteen years ago.

For home connections, more people are using home networks, supported by a single cable modem. Typically, the router needs to be connected to one computer at home through Ethernet only once, to provision the router properly for Internet and Web access (until provisioned, the router will find only the router manufacturer’s website).  Employers might sometimes use the connection for transmission, but some ISP’s may limit the number of computers that can be connected, and the security for the transmission will be mediated by whatever settings the employee used at home.

A much better method for employers is cellular wireless, which would be limited only by the availability of the cellular connection in the employee’s home, which might located  be in a remote, mountainous area or in some building where access is difficult. Setting standards for cellular wireless fits into the network neutrality debate, but companies and government agencies need the ability to set up wireless arrangements robust enough for all circumstances, even if they have to pay more for them.

Individuals, especially retirees (and sometimes graduate students!) find themselves in the position of working multiple contracts or gigs for various parties, some of which may involve deploying content of their own making (as with artists or musicians). They need the ability to communicate sensitive or proprietary content with various parties in a timely manner without creating conflicts.  This will call for a better level of customer service from telecommunications companies than is generally offered now.

Here’s a write-up on cellular wireless v. WiFi.. The latter depends on having a specific connection device (possibly not secure) at a home or establishment. Business travelers are starting to take similar MiFi cards with them to set up their own hot spots on the road.  

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