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.

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

Why the “homework gap” is key to America’s digital divide

A Q&A with Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel on the “homework gap,” the term she coined to describe a problem facing communities where kids can’t access the internet because infrastructure is inadequate, their families can’t afford it, or both. Commissioner Rosenworcel is passionate about getting the FCC to update the E-Rate program, a federal education technology service created in 1996 that offers schools and libraries discounted internet access. 

The Pandemic's Digital Shadow

Three notable trends punctuated an especially dismal year for internet freedom.

FCC Announces First Funding in E-Rate Second Application Window

The Federal Communications Commission announced that $1,366,378 in E-Rate funding for 291 schools serving 220,584 students in 32 states and Puerto Rico has been committed so far during the second application window for funding year 2020. During the second filing window, schools can purchase additional bandwidth for this academic year to address needs resulting from the increasing shift to 1:1 student-to-device ratios in classrooms, live streaming of classroom instruction to students at home, and expanding use of cloud-based educational tools and platforms—all of which can significantly incr

Remarks of Commissioner Starks at 9th Annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference

The past few months have underscored a basic truth: full participation in civil society requires an internet connection. Wireless technologies, including emerging 5G technologies, have an important role to play here. That’s why we must do more to make high-quality, affordable broadband, including 5G wireless service, available to everyone. In planning and promoting the deployment of advanced wireless networks, we have an opportunity to promote digital inclusion and combat longstanding inequalities.

ACA Connects and EducationSuperHighway Announce Partnership on ‘K-12 Bridge to Broadband’ Initiative to Meet Student Connectivity Needs

ACA Connects and EducationSuperHighway announced they are partnering in support of the “K-12 Bridge to Broadband” initiative to connect students with online learning.

The Digital Divide Starts With a Laptop Shortage

Millions of children are encountering all sorts of inconveniences that come with digital instruction during the coronavirus pandemic. But many students are facing a more basic challenge: They don’t have computers and can’t attend classes held online. A surge in worldwide demand by educators for low-cost laptops and Chromebooks — up to 41 percent higher than last year — has created monthslong shipment delays and pitted desperate schools against one another.

No Home, No Wi-Fi: Pandemic Adds to Strain on Poor College Students

Trapped between the financial hardships of the pandemic and the technological hurdles of online learning, the millions of low-income college students across America face mounting obstacles in their quests for higher education.

While 10G is cable's future, better upstream speeds are its present

As a whole, the cable industry's upstream held up well during the Covid-19 pandemic, but with the increased use of video conferencing and other tools associated with work-from-home and online learning, cable operators need to accelerate their efforts on expanding the upstream according to CommScope CTO Tom Cloonan. "In the upstream, we've seen that it's grown by about 25% over what it was in February," Cloonan said. "So that's a big jump.