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CircleID Launches the First in a Series of Community Dialogues on COVID-19 and the Internet

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the rapid migration of the world's workforce and consumer services to virtual spaces, has amplified the Internet governance and policy issues including infrastructure, access, exponential instances of fraud and abuse, global cooperation and data privacy, to name but a few. The need for practical, scalable and efficient solutions has risen dramatically. more

Public and Private Infrastructure Investment Alternatives

Eric Yuan, CEO of the Zoom teleconferencing service, stated that the average number of daily meeting recipients increased from 10 million in December 2019 to 200 million in March 2020 in a webinar last month. I've been teaching 21 students using Zoom as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the audio and video are smooth, and switching between speakers is seamless. Offhand, I cannot think of any technology that has scaled so well so fast. more

Is Teleworking Here to Stay?

Broadband networks are stretched thin today due to the large numbers of adults and students working from home. There are many stories on the web that indicate that a lot of employees are not going to be going back to the office when the pandemic is over. Here are two stories about a trend towards more teleworking from the dozens that a Google search uncovered. more

The Upload Crisis

Carriers continue to report on the impact of COVID-19 on their networks. One of the more interesting statistics that caught my eye was when Comcast reported that upload traffic on their network was up 33% since March 1. Comcast joins the rest of big ISPs in saying that their networks are handling the increased traffic volumes. By 'handling' the volumes, they mean that their networks are not crashing and shutting down. But I think there is a whole lot more to these headlines than what they are telling the public. more

The Internet Turbocharged Globalization

Back around the turn of the century, the Internet reduced international communication costs by 99% in just a couple of years. In 1998 phone calls to China and India from the US cost more than $1.00/minute and data communication costs were similarly high. International supply chains were very difficult to set up and costly to manage because of the cost of communication. more

The Resurgence of Voice

One of the most interesting outcomes of the COVID-19 crisis has been a huge resurgence of telephone calls. While broadband usage is up 40% or more in some markets, the volumes of traditional voice calls have skyrocketed. Verizon says it's now seeing an average of 800 million calls per day, which is double the number of calls made on the last Mother's Day. Verizon also says the average length of calls has increased by one-third over recent averages. more

SpaceX Applies for a Constellation Re-Design and Announces Beta Test Dates

This week SpaceX petitioned the FCC to reconfigure their Starlink constellation and Elon Musk outlined their beta testing plan. As shown below, the most significant configuration change is reducing the altitude of four of the five groups of orbital planes by around 50%. The total number of satellites and the number orbiting at a 53-degree inclination, which gives good coverage over relatively affluent regions, are not changed very much. more

A Bad Year for the Cable Industry

The traditional cable TV industry had a miserable 2019. Collectively the biggest cable TV providers in U.S. lost over 5.9 million subscribers during the year, almost 7% of the total customer base. The impacts of COVID-19, along with the already existing trends in the industry, spell bad news for the industry in 2020. I expect that customer losses will accelerate over 2019 levels. more

Strengthening Caribbean Internet Capacity to Support Local Online Services

The Caribbean needs more robust infrastructure to support the delivery of local online services during the COVID-19 pandemic and for crises to come. Public health and safety mandates, from social distancing and quarantines to stay-at-home orders and curfews, have confined an estimated one billion persons to their homes globally. The sudden restrictions on social movement have created a reliance on the Internet and technology-enabled services. This should come as no surprise. more

Predictions for a Post-COVID-19 World

While it might still be too early to make predictions, there are dozens of articles on the web predicting how the COVID-19 pandemic might change our long-term behavior. Here are some of the more interesting predictions I've seen that involve broadband and telecom... Millions of people were sent home for work or school to homes that didn't have good broadband. These folks have been telling the world for years that they don't have good broadband... more

Cable Customers Plummet in 2019

The final numbers are in for 2019 and the largest cable providers collectively lost over 5.9 million customers for the year - a loss of almost 7% of customers. The numbers below come from Leichtman Research Group which compiles these numbers from reports made to investors, except for Cox which is estimated. The numbers reported are for the largest cable providers, and Leichtman estimates that these companies represent 95% of all cable customers in the country. more

An End to Data Caps?

All of the major ISPs that were enforcing data caps have lifted those caps in response to the COVID-19 crisis. This includes AT&T, Comcast, Cox, Mediacom, and CenturyLink. All of these companies justified data caps as a network management tool that was in place to discourage overuse of the network. That argument no longer holds water if these ISPs eliminate them during a crisis that is overtaxing networks more than we are likely to ever see again. more

Free the Fiber Now

In a previous blog post I mentioned that the FCC had taken away restrictions to allow broadband supplied by E-Rate funding to be used to provide free WiFi for the public. That's a good idea that will provide some relief for areas with little or no other broadband. But the announcement raises a more fundamental question - why was such a restriction in place to begin with? more

This COVID-19 Crisis Proves the Internet Is Indeed a Caribbean Right

The coronavirus pandemic has, in the most emphatic way, shown us all just how interconnected everything and everyone is. A worldwide race is underway to minimize human interactions in order to avoid a global catastrophe. The inescapable consequence of these initiatives is an unprecedented shut down of the local, regional and global economy. The latest cost estimate to save the global economy is now at $7 trillion and climbing. more

The Government Needs to Address the Homework Gap

I've been at a bit of a loss over the last few days on what to write about, because suddenly newspapers, blogs, and social media are full of stories of how impossible it is for some students to work at home during the COVID-19 shutdowns. I've been writing this topic for years, and there doesn't seem to be a lot I can add right now - because the endless testimonials from students and families struggling with the issue speak louder than anything I can say. more

News Briefs

FCC Grants ISPs Temporary Access to Wireless Spectrum to Help Handle Demand During Pandemic

BT Removes Broadband Caps, Offers Unlimited Data to Customers Amid COVID-19 Crisis

EU Commissioner Calls on Streaming Services to Switch Streaming Videos From HD to Standard Mode

Broadband Companies Take Connectivity Pledge Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Red Sea Region Suffers From Multi-Day Internet Outage Following an Undersea Cable Cut

New York City Releases Internet Master Plan For City's Broadband Future

Russia Says It Has Successfully Tested a Country-Wide Alternative to the Global Internet

Fiber Infrastructure in China Has Grown Nine Times Faster Than in the U.S. Since 2013

Iran Almost Completely Shuts Off Internet Access Across the Country Amid Protests Over Fuel Prices

EFF: For ISPs to Retain Power to Censor the Internet, DNS Needs to Remain Leaky

China to Require Face Scan for Internet Access and New Phone Numbers Starting December

US Court Upholds FCC's Net Neutrality Repeal But Says States Can't Be Barred from Passing Own Rules

Hong Kong ISPs Oppose Government Plans for Internet Restrictions Without Industry Consultation

OneWeb Fails in Latest Attempt to Get Russian Approval for Its Worldwide Internet Coverage Plan

Telesat and the Government of Canada Join Forces to Tackle Canada's Digital Divide

Other Countries Beginning to Adopt China's Unique Approach to an Isolated Internet Structure

Google Announces a New Private Subsea Cable Connecting Africa With Europe

Greece Announces Plans to Install Free Public Wi-Fi Nationwide

Domestic Internet of Russia, Iran Far Deeper Kind of Fragmentation, More Physical Than Seen Before

Loon Balloons Restore Internet After a Massive Earthquake Strikes Remote Parts of Peru

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