When COVID-19 hit, many people began working, going to school, and living much of their lives from home. The Internet was a gateway to the world. This article uses data from Internet speed tests, consumer complaints, search engine optimization tools, and logs of Internet use from public libraries to understand the effects of the pandemic on Internet use and performance. Despite reports that the Internet handled the surge in traffic well, we find that complaints about Internet speed nearly tripled, and performance was degraded.
[Commentary] The Senate may soon be voting on net neutrality. The net neutrality debate is driven in part by the fact that Internet service providers (ISPs) have the technical ability and financial incentive to act as gatekeepers, picking winners and losers in the Internet marketplace. Perhaps an ISP will favor a particular airline reservation website or an online newspaper by blocking access to its competitors, or simply by making access to competitors’ content painfully slow.