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Internet for all? Biden seeks to widen online access (Includes interview)

Safer Internet Day looks to promote internet safety through various organizations and stakeholders
Safer Internet Day looks to promote internet safety through various organizations and stakeholders

President Joe Biden unveiled his American Jobs plan that would update the U.S. infrastructure. Part of this includes correcting the market failure in terms of broadband provision. Biden aims to increase coverage of the Internet and to offer a better service nationwide. This is welcomed by many in business, given that remote working will become part of normal work activity.

According to a Spiceworks Ziff Davis survey of over 1000 IT professionals in the U.S. and U.K. (those who manage the technology that powers the remote work movement), 61 percent of employees worked from home during the pandemic, and the majority of companies will keep flexible work policies in place once it’s safe to return to offices.

However, not everything went smoothly during the transition to working remotely. According to a separate poll of 200 or so IT professionals, run a few months into the pandemic, 70 percent of companies were limited by Internet bandwidth constraints in remote workers’ homes.

Looking at the issue for Digital Journal is Peter Tsai, Head of Technology Insights at SWZD. Tsai states: “Indeed, lack of access to broadband is of particular concern in rural areas in the U.S. and U.K., which ranked 20th and 49th respectively in the Speedtest Global Index.”

He adds, however ,that the problems don’t end there since several IT professionals involved in our research said they were “shocked” to learn how many employees within their organization had no internet access in their home at all.

Tsai noes that slow or non-existent Internet access is “also a problem in education. In another poll of IT professionals—many of whom support the technology in schools—the second biggest distance learning problem during the pandemic was internet connectivity and bandwidth limitations, behind only the need for better tech training for educators.”

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Even though remote or hybrid work and learning scenarios might be the future, Tsai says “clearly there are some kinks that need to be worked out first before everyone can embrace this new paradigm. In the future, the proposed $100 billion government spending plan to improve internet infrastructure in the U.S. might help speed the process along.”

Tsai notes that, additionally, “there’s great interest—with more than one in three companies having use cases for them—in low-earth orbit satellite systems being deployed by companies such as SpaceX, which promise to eventually deliver high-speed, low-latency internet to the entire globe at a cost of approximately $100 per month.”

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