Coronavirus and Connectivity

Through our Headlines news service, Benton is tracking the role of broadband in the response to coronavirus (COVID-19). Click on titles below for full summaries of articles and links to sources.

Broadband from the Bottom Up: How Community Organizations Can Shape the Broadband Future

The private market will not close this digital divide on its own. Nearly 28 million American households have a single choice of broadband provider; millions more live in duopolies. Government primarily serves as a regulator—recently, an anti-city, anti-competition regulator—with a few programs that subsidize internet service providers’ (ISPs) service of low-income residents. New models of public-private partnership are essential to achieve universal broadband. The public and civic sectors have three principal tools to shape these partnerships:

Remote learning is deepening the divide between rich and poor

Peru, the nation with the world’s highest coronavirus mortality rate, is also one of dozens of countries where schools nationwide remain closed on account of the pandemic, with no reopening date in sight. The quarantine here is particularly severe; children 14 and under are permitted out of their homes only one hour per day. Some families can afford workarounds. Students from families wealthy enough to pay for private schools have kept their educations going with private tutors and interactive classes on home computers.

Accedian Research Examines the Business Impact of Network Brownouts in the Age of COVID-19

To better understand the impact of network brownouts in the age of COVID-19, Accedian released the findings of its new research measuring the effects of network brownouts on business productivity and end-user experience. Network brownouts are unexpected performance degradations, excessive slowdowns and network congestion that impact application performance (as opposed to full network outages or blackouts). According to the 1,000 US senior IT decision makers surveyed for the research:

Digital inclusion and parity: Implications for community development

This paper introduces the concept of digital parity – similar levels of connectivity, devices, and skills between groups – that can lead to more digital inclusive communities. Utilizing a household survey measuring digital inclusiveness and analysis of variance (ANOVA), findings suggest that there are different levels of digital inclusiveness between groups. Differences in internet use and benefits are larger between younger and older groups. There are also differences between urban and rural areas.

Why education technology can’t save remote learning

Even the best technology can't eliminate the inherent problems of virtual schooling. Several key technological stumbling blocks have persisted in keeping remote learning from meeting its full potential. 

In the midst of pandemic, Alabama connects 100,000—and counting—low-income students to distance learning

Only six weeks after its launch, last week marked a major milestone for the Alabama Broadband Connectivity for Students Program: We have connected more than 100,000 low-income students statewide and the number grows by the thousands each day. These Alabama students now have reliable broadband service—paid for by the State of Alabama—that enables them to do homework and distance learn, with the cost of broadband removed as a barrier to learning.

Tech’s Influence Over Markets Eclipses Dot-Com Bubble Peak

Technology companies are set to end the year with their greatest share of the stock market ever, topping a dot-com era peak in the latest illustration of their growing influence on global consumers. Companies that do everything from manufacturing phones to operating social-media platforms now account for nearly 40% of the S&P 500, on pace to eclipse a record of 37% from 1999, according to a Dow Jones Market Data analysis of annual market-value data going back 30 years. Apple accounts for more than 7% of the index on its own.

Many Students Still Lack Home Internet. Here's How Big the Problem Is.

The vast majority of school district leaders and principals say at least some of their students still don't have sufficient internet access at home for remote learning. And most educators believe the U.S. government should be providing more funding to ensure that's no longer the case. Two recent surveys reflect strong convictions among educators that the level of home internet access in the communities they serve continues to be inadequate.

AT&T, FCC Abandon Rural Broadband Customers

On October 1, AT&T stopped selling digital-subscriber-line (DSL) connections. At first glance, the move may seem like a market-based decision to drop an obsolete technology. But as journalists and advocates were quick to pick up on: What about the abandoned customers? At a time when safety dictates that many of us learn and earn from home, how are people to do so when a commercial decision impacts health and well-being?

Sens Merkley, Wyden, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Expand Tribal Broadband Application Deadline

Sens Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), along with 11 of their Senate colleagues, have introduced a bill to expand the Federal Communication Commission 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Priority Window to allow Tribal Nations and Native Hawaiian organizations the time they need to apply for spectrum licenses for unassigned spectrum over their own lands—a critical step to expanding broadband access in their communities. The Extending Broadband Tribal Priority Act of 2020 will require the FCC to open a new 2.5 GHz Rural Tribal Priority Window that lasts at least 180 days, to commence no later than