The people who work in the communications industries.
Recently, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration reported initial results from our latest NTIA Internet Use Survey, which showed that Americans were increasingly using a larger and more varied range of devices. But with dozens of topics covered in the survey, there is a lot more we can learn from this data collection, including questions about online activities such as checking email, watching videos and participating in the sharing economy.
Expanding the ability to work remotely, learn remotely, and conduct health care appointments through telehealth will be key steps in permitting economic activity to expand in the second half of 2020, and beyond. Further, a report by the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society shows that connected students are more likely to check their grades, do research, look up class information, and collaborate with peers than unconnected students. But local responses to the pandemic have raised the stakes on differential access to the internet.
The COVID-19 public health crisis has acutely and maybe even permanently changed the way many of us work. The future of the work environment is still unknown but we are increasingly seeing a future where telework, telelearning, and telehealth are valuable commodities for public health and economic resilience. However, short- and long-term investments are critical to improving our current state of work and internet access, both through broadband and increased affordability. Below are some suggestions.
“Middle-skill” jobs make up a large portion of the market, has positions to fill, but suffers from a dearth of trained workers—especially when it comes to digital skills. Digital skills refer to a person’s ability to use digital tools, applications, and networks to access and manage information. Pandemic-driven unemployment will only put the middle-skill issue into sharper relief.
There is considerable speculation about how the pandemic will change the way we live. In particular our office is fielding a lot of questions about working from home and whether households may increasingly choose to live in the suburbs or rural areas as a result. Our office has pulled together and updated some of our previous research on working from home and broadband access here in Oregon. Some findings:
Nearly 17 million new US jobs (16.7 million) were created during the nine-year period when 4G wireless networks were deployed and became a key driver of the US economy. At the beginning of the 4G era in 2011, 3.7 million jobs were connected to the wireless industry – a number that rose to 20.4 million by 2019. Overall, the US wireless industry gross domestic product (GDP) grew 253% to $690.5 billion between 2011 and 2019. Experts expect the industry’s GDP to increase by 126% between 2011 and 2019 to $441.8 billion. But instead, wireless GDP hit $690.5 billion in 2019.
Digital-native news outlets – those “born on the web” – have seen a wave of cuts since the outbreak of the coronavirus as financial troubles continue to roil the news media. Quartz laid off 80 staffers as its advertising revenue declined by over half. BuzzFeed shut down its divisions in the UK and Australia while furloughing dozens in the United States, and Vox furloughed about 100. The Outline has shut down entirely. Here are key facts about digital-native news organizations. All data predates the current downturn related to the coronavirus:
A new and growing underclass is working inside some of the world's wealthiest companies. They push mops and clean toilets. They cook and serve gourmet lunches. They patrol suburban office parks. They ferry technology workers to and from their jobs in luxury shuttle buses. But they are not on the payroll at Apple, Facebook or Google, companies famous for showering their workers with six-figure salaries, stock options and perks. Instead they are employed by outside contractors. And they say the bounty from the technology boom is not trickling down to them.
The mass migration to remote work helped companies solve a major coronavirus challenge, but the recent civil unrest has exposed diversity and opportunity gaps across the U.S., which telecommuting is beginning to exacerbate. Low-income students and students of color entering the workforce are struggling to overcome a telecommuting digital divide. The data is starting to back up the personal experience.
T-Mobile is already trying to get out of merger conditions imposed by state regulators in California less than three months after completing its acquisition of Sprint. T-Mobile filed a petition with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), asking the agency to provide two extra years to meet 5G build-out requirements and to eliminate a requirement to add 1,000 new employees. T-Mobile, which had agreed to other conditions imposed by the federal government, completed the Sprint merger on April 1 without waiting for California's approval.