Corona Virus Will Reveal Something Unexpected

As the Corona Virus Covid-19 continues to do it’s thing, it  has already revealed a lot of uncomfortable truths – no doubt part of the reason the market has reacted the way it has.

So what are some of the things are we are seeing:

  • Large entertainment events such as SXSW and Cochella are being cancelled.
  • There is talk about sporting events being turned into online-only events
  • The next Democratic Party debate will be done without an audience
  • Schools are closing their classrooms and turning to online only
  • Entire countries are being quarantined
  • US mayors and governors are declaring states of emergency
  • Companies such as Google are telling workers to work from home
  • and many more

What is the impact of this?

Lets ignore the impact of a lot more cyber breaches because no one is prepared for dealing with all of this teleworking and people using the Internet from home — doing so in a way that is not even remotely secure.

No, what I am pointing to is the really, really sad state of the Internet in the United States.

Several FCC Commissioners testified to this fact before the Senate today.

WAIT!  Aren’t they the folks that are supposed to make the Internet Great Again?

[FCC Commissioner] Starks recommended that the FCC expedite approval of experimental licenses to expand existing wireless networks, pressure carriers to deliver cell towers on wheels (cows) to the hardest hit US communities, and launch a “connectivity and economic stimulus” plan to help speed up broadband deployment to the hardest hit US communities.

What is the problem?

In Congressional testimony earlier this year, former FCC lawyer Gigi Sohn estimated that some 141 million people in the US lack access to fixed broadband at speeds of 25 Mbps, the FCC’s base definition of broadband. A recent study indicated that roughly 42 million Americans have no access to either fixed or wireless broadband whatsoever, nearly double FCC estimates.

A lack of competition means US consumers pay some of the highest rates for broadband in the developed world. It also means that US internet service providers (ISPs) have very little incentive to shore up terrible customer service, expand broadband into rural markets, or avoid bad behavior like spurious surcharges or arbitrary broadband usage caps.

I live 30 minutes from downtown Denver.  Not exactly the middle of nowhere.

THERE IS NO FIXED INTERNET AVAILABLE AT ALL. PERIOD.  NONE.

THERE IS NO WIRELESS BROADBAND INTERNET AVAILABLE AND ACCORDING TO THE ONLY CARRIER THAT PROVIDES SERVICE, THERE NEVER WILL BE.

THERE IS NO CELLULAR SERVICE AT ALL

SATELLITE INTERNET IS AVAILABLE.  IT IS SLOW AND HAS RIDICULOUSLY LOW BANDWIDTH USAGE LIMITS BEFORE THEY SLOW YOUR CONNECTION SPEED TO THE EQUIVALENT OF DIAL-UP.

The only available Internet is less than broadband speed.  And it is expensive.

In case you think I am alone, read the green paragraph above.

141 million people in the U.S. lack fixed broadband Internet.  That is close to half the population.  42 million have no access to Internet at all.

So what do all of those quarantined people do?

Globally 300 million kids are out of school.

What does someone do when their school goes to Internet only and all they have is crappy or no Internet.

MAYBE THEY BECOME CRIMINALS.  Not an excuse, but a reasonable explanation.  Can’t work – no Internet.  Can’t go to school.  Can’t feed their family.  They will do what they need to do to survive.

Maybe you are thinking this is only a problem in rural Idaho.  Nope.

29% of the households in New York City don’t have broadband Internet.  46% of the families in New York City below the poverty don’t have Internet at all – feed your family or give them Internet.  The choice is obvious.

As US cities begin to follow suit [closing schools] over the next few weeks, American students are going to get a crash course in the availability and affordability problems that have long plagued US broadband, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel told hearing attendees.

Likely the only other refuge of those kids that don’t have Internet at home is the library and some of those are closing due to Covid-19 too.

I have about zero confidence the government will do anything, but you can always hope.

The FCC released a report last fall that said that everyone has broadband Internet.  The have-nots are down from 26% to 21%.

How do you reconcile these numbers?

It’s easy.

The current FCC commissioner used to be a lawyer for Verizon.  Need I say more?  Of course, he is not alone.

The FCC has an interesting definition of broadband access.  First, they allow the carriers to self-report.  What could possibly go wrong.  Maybe we should let Congresspeople and Senators “report” the census in their districts.  I am sure it would be accurate and we would save a lot of money.

Second, If ONE PERSON in a zip code has broadband Internet, the report that the FCC puts out says that everyone in that zip code has it.  That is a bit of a mind blower.

There are many people in my zip code that covers many square miles that have broadband, therefore, in FCC speak, they allow the Internet providers to claim that everyone has it.

I am not counting on it getting better, but this may force the issue.

Always optimistic. 🙂

Source: Motherboard Vice

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