Coronavirus and Connectivity
T-Mobile will launch its budget Connect plan on March 25th. The prepaid package will deliver unlimited talk and text as well as 2GB of data for $15 per month (or 5GB for $25). The carrier is launching the deal early; it was originally intended to launch after its pending merger with Sprint finalized. As the novel coronavirus pandemic forces businesses to shutter, T-Mobile claims Connect is ideal for Americans who are struggling financially.
A Q&A with Chris Mitchell, director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance's Community Broadband Networks Initiative.
While the US government and telecommunications industry have been engrossed in the race to 5G, much of the country is still in a slow crawl to regular home internet service. It’s a mistake with economic consequences, and unfortunately the coronavirus pandemic could provide the harshest evidence of that. “Carriers and the FCC are so obsessed with the next thing (5G), they’ve not ensured that everyone who needs access to the network can get it or afford it,” said Benton senior fellow and public advocate Gigi Sohn.
Millions of people are working from home, children are attending school remotely, and they've all turned to their home broadband connections to stay connected. So far networks in the US and the world have been holding up even as usage spikes. But will it continue? "To be honest, I think we just don't know the answer," said Jon Sallet, a senior fellow at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, and a former general counsel at the Federal Communications Commission.
Nationwide, approximately 22% of households don’t have home internet, including more than 4 million households with school-age children.
From Boeing to Verizon Communications, scores of US companies and industries are furiously lobbying Congress to add measures to the Trump administration’s massive stimulus package to deal with the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, some of which address issues that long predate the outbreak.
Over the long term, we are better off with as much experimentation and as many leaders as possible, not only to spur the kinds of innovations that will protect us from the virus (vaccines, treatments, cheaper and better medical equipment) but also to guide our transition to a very different world. All of this innovation will require universal access to fast, affordable broadband. Our government has an obligation to provide public education; it must now provide the broadband to make that education possible.
AT&T’s networks have seen a surge of usage since companies around the United States have asked employees to work from home and schools have moved online following the COVID-19 outbreak.
Capitol Hill is locked in a fight over how much money to funnel to help students and teachers sidelined by the coronavirus pandemic get access to online learning, creating uncertainty for school districts as lawmakers and the White House rush to finalize a package of emergency measures. Millions of students are currently stuck at home as schools across the nation close, some without access to broadband internet and other tools needed to engage in remote learning.
This is a war. And in war, strategy is important. Learning from experience from around the world, we recognize a third phase of the Covid-19 response: suppression of episodic outbreaks.