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.

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.

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