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.

As Virtual Learning Resumes In Pandemic, Chicago Groups Plead For Internet For All

Concerned parents and activists gathered in front of Chicago's Englewood neighborhood Comcast branch demanding that the federal government ensure internet access for all children as classrooms nationwide prepare to go virtual. Activists in several cities, including Chicago, Washington D.C., and Oakland participated in #InternetForAll’s national call for action, calling on the Federal Communications Commission and the US Department of Education to address the estimated 15 million students “logged out” across the country.

School is starting -- and the broadband gap will be a massive problem

Schools are being forced to tackle the digital divide problem in their districts, becoming experts in complex broadband options seemingly overnight. That's on top of grappling with how to make sure their low-income students are fed and healthy, and navigating archaic regulations controlling how they receive funding.

Case Study: How Chicago is Providing High-Speed Internet Access to Students who Need it the Most

With the increase in remote learning due to COVID-10, the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the philanthropic community, and leading Internet Service Providers (ISPs) recognized a historic opportunity to eliminate broadband accessibility as a barrier to digital learning. On June 25, 2020, Mayor Lori E.

America’s Moral Obligation for Universal Broadband

As much as the pandemic is a challenge, the urgency it presents also provides an opportunity to finally make significant progress on these digital issues. To get started and provide a framework for future action, I recommend focusing on the following:

Delaware investing $20 million in broadband

Delaware officials announced that $20 million in CARES Act funding is earmarked for high-speed internet expansion, a demand magnified by upcoming remote learning necessitated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. CARES Act funding will be utilized to build out additional infrastructure across Delaware, gather strategic data through a statewide speed survey and acquire equipment and services for families in financial need. Additionally, 15 towers in the current phase of the Rural Wireless Broadband Initiative in Kent and Sussex counties will be completed about four months ahead of schedule.

Fixed Wireless Access projected to grow dramatically, but it still has problems

There’s a huge opportunity for fixed wireless access (FWA) growth around the world, and that opportunity has been especially highlighted during the Covid-19 pandemic. Counterpoint Research Senior Analyst Tina Lu said only 45% of households worldwide had broadband at the end of 2019. But if Chinese households are removed from the equation, only 28% of global households are connected to broadband. “This is the primary drive to the growth of FWA,” said Lu. “Also Covid-19 is making broadband a priority. It’s not just a luxury.

We Live Online. Hurricanes and Blackouts Mean Enormous Isolation.

Even as California has escalating rolling blackouts and Iowa has been blasted with storms, an extremely active hurricane season for the United States is only just beginning. It’s not just the loss of electricity Americans fear from these events.

Thousands of Minnesota students still don’t have internet for distance learning

With the start of the school year just around the corner, thousands of Minnesota students still don’t have access to reliable high-speed internet — meaning that many will begin another year of at least part-time distance learning with spotty service or no internet connection at all.  Low-income students, rural students and students of color are disproportionately likely to lack reliable internet access, raising concerns that the digital divide will worsen Minnesota’s educational disparities, which are already some of the worst in the nation. Roughly 25,000 Minnesota students didn’t have com

WISPA FYI - COVID-19's Effect on Fixed Wireless Network Use

In early Aug, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) surveyed its WISP providers on the effect the pandemic has had on network use, changes in download and upload traffic, and network responses, among other matters. Usage remains highly asymmetrical during COVID, with only a small minority of customers citing faster upload speeds as a reason for upgrading their service packages where requested. As a consequence of [COVID-19], download traffic and upload traffic surged, pushing our members to upgrade both last-mile and backhaul capacity.

Chairman Pai Continues to Ask Congress for $430 Million for FCC Teleheatlh

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is pushing Congress to make “more funding available for connectivity during the COVID-19 pandemic — including at least $430 million in funding for the highly successful but underfunded COVID-19 Telehealth Program,” a spokesperson said, noting that the FCC has conveyed these requests for months. Congress in March slated $200 million for the Covid-19 Telehealth Program, and the FCC has since awarded that cash to subsidize connectivity for 539 health care entities across the country.