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.

Working From Home Feeds Market’s Woes in Little Ways That Add Up

Toggling between two computer screens instead of four. Slower wireless connections. Plain old cellphones — missed calls and all — standing in for highly programmed devices that allow instantaneous connections. Instant messaging and video conferencing replacing quick bursts of conversation across a floor.

ISPs' COVID Response Said To Negate Net Neutrality Rules

Generous actions from internet service providers during the coronavirus pandemic prove that broad, now-repealed net neutrality rules were always unnecessary, said Roslyn Layton, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Layton said that service providers’ offers to waive cancellations and fees while many Americans are struggling financially demonstrate that ISPs are acting with customers’ best interests in mind and do not require close government oversight.

Seeking Your Help in Learning More About What Works in Distance Education: A Rapid Evidence Synthesis

The Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences is announcing its first-ever cooperative rapid evidence synthesis. Here is what we have in mind:

Coronavirus exposes America’s broadband problem

Even before the pandemic, rural broadband had become a simmering political issue, an acute example of being left behind which some Democrats were using to prise rural voters away from President Donald Trump. It is a subject that resonates from congressional districts in upstate New York to presidential swing states such as Iowa. With the virus spreading rapidly beyond cities into rural counties, poor access to broadband has exploded into a major Congressional row, as politicians tussle over billions of dollars’ worth of stimulus money.

Big Tech moves into government vacuum on coronavirus

As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, tech companies are stepping into the void left by a reluctant or incapable federal government — enabling contact tracing, wrestling with testing, and ramping up the capacity of government operations like unemployment services. Public-private partnerships are common in times of crisis, and tech companies always love to show off their "how can we help?" reflexes when calamities arise. But the pandemic response is breaking from the normal pattern in which government calls for action, specifies needs, and sets standards and priorities while companies apply

Lack of Symmetrical Networks May be Choking Internet Performance

Local broadband speeds may be impaired by upload speed. "That upstream is really where we’re in trouble,” said Gary Bolton, the vice president of global marketing at ADTRAN, referring to unprecedented demand for needing to upload content to the internet, mainly the webcam and audio data you need to broadcast to participate in a Zoom meeting. Bolton predicted that this crunch on upstream will lead to an explosion for demand for broadband buildout.

Keep Americans Connected Pledge Doesn't Apply to Your TV Bill

The language on the Federal Communications Commission’s website seems simple enough. According to a “pledge” signed by the nation’s cable and internet providers, for the next two months, there will be no termination of “service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.” Turns out, the pledge does not appear to apply to TV.  That was news to Kimberly Martinez Malo, a Broward resident, who d

Apple and Google Team Up to ‘Contact Trace’ the Coronavirus

In one of the most far-ranging attempts to halt the spread of the coronavirus, Apple and Google said they were building software into smartphones that would tell people if they were recently in contact with someone who was infected with the virus. The technology giants said they were teaming up to release the tool within several months, building it into the operating systems of the billions of iPhones and Android devices around the world.

Chairman Pai Response Regarding Connectivity During COVID-19 Pandemic

On March 19, 2020, Reps Darren Soto (D-FL), Jared Huffman (D-CA), and Donald Payne, Jr. (D-NJ) wrote Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to urge his full consideration of policies that would protect Americans' access to communications services by ensuring that no one gets their cell phone, landline, or internet access disconnected during the COVID-19 national emergency.