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.

Why the coronavirus pandemic may fast-forward 5G adoption in the US

The coronavirus outbreak and the rise in remote work has advanced the need for more robust 5G technologies in the US. Verizon stated March 18 that the demands on bandwidth increased 75% over the previous week. The Federal Communications Commission and federal government are trying to accelerate deployment in urban and rural areas. But, the global pandemic has forced a supply chain slowdown that may delay further expansion of 5G.

The Internet Is Fine—for Now

Netflix says it will lower the quality of its video streams in Europe in an effort to preserve bandwidth for more essential online activities. But early data shows that most US broadband providers, and many elsewhere, are standing up to the surge in internet traffic generated by the many people stuck at home amid the Covid-19 pandemic. At least for now. 

Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19, Includes Communications Workers

The Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) released guidance to help state and local jurisdictions and the private sector identify and manage their essential workforce while responding to COVID-19.

Pledge to Stay Together

Highlighting some efforts to keep us all connected in what is a very scary time. We look at the Keep America Connected Pledge, other voluntary efforts by broadband providers, and actions by the Federal Communications Commission to waive program rules and increase the capacity of wireless carriers. But even with all this activity, we're seeing too many stories about too many people who are not connected during this pandemic. 

At Schools Closed for Coronavirus, Online Work Won’t Count

For all the talk of online learning during shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, many U.S. public school students will find that the work they do while at home is actually optional. It won’t be graded and it won’t count. Some public schools are calling online work “enrichment,” not part of the curriculum, because they can’t guarantee that all students will have access to it. Students without the internet or home computers can’t do it, and special-needs students may require accommodations to complete it. As a result, millions of schoolchildren risk missing weeks of school.

Senator Markey Queries White House on Plans to Use Americans’ Location Data for Coronavirus Response

Sen Ed Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) regarding recent reports that it is considering future partnerships with companies including Google, Facebook, IBM and others, some of which would involve analyzing information about the location of those companies’ users, to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr Praises FCC’s ‘Unprecedented Effort’ to Ensuring Connectivity During Coronavirus

Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr praised the FCC’s emergency efforts to bolster connectivity in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Commissioner Carr said that “every reform is on the table” – particularly with regard to the agency’s Lifeline program – to ensure that American have adequate connectivity at this time.

Chairman Pai Welcomes More Keep Americans Connected Pledge Signers

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced that 205 additional broadband and phone service providers have taken the Keep Americans Connected Pledge, bringing the total number of companies to 390.

As Businesses Shut, How Many U.S. Workers Can Work From Home?

The coronavirus pandemic is prompting many businesses across the country to close their offices, forcing their employees to work from home. One problem: A majority of US workers don’t have jobs that easily enable them to work from home, the federal government says. According to a March 2019 survey by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 7% of US workers are in an occupation where they spend a portion of their work schedule at home or at another approved location other than their office.

Wireless Spectrum Lending is the Latest Trend in COVID-19 Response

With wireless use set to spike as more people work from home during the coronavirus, or COVID-19, pandemic, wireless spectrum holders are working together to most efficiently use the available spectrum. That has led carriers and spectrum holders to temporarily put competition aside and enter wireless spectrum lending arrangements. The goal is to expand voice, video and data capacity where it is needed as work, as education and as commerce shifts to the home from the office, school and store.