With the worldwide spread of COVID-19, we're facing unprecedented circumstances. The pandemic is forcing us to restructure education, businesses and the global economy entirely. As we practice social distancing and self-quarantine, the only way to maintain a semblance of normalcy is to connect online. And that is only possible with the correct devices and the most reliable broadband at home.
Our new culture of remote connectivity exposes, more than ever, the need for increased capacity. As more and more institutions move work and school online, we have started to see older networks strain to support the massive amounts of traffic. With everyone working and learning from home all at once on a DSL or satellite network, the amount of available bandwidth becomes a huge concern.
Consider all of the connected devices in a home – smartwatches, tablets, smartphones, baby monitors, smart doorbells, smart fridges, home assistants, connected TVs, Wi-Fi enabled washers and dryers, and smart speakers. Now layer those with the bandwidth-hungry applications that remote work and distance learning require during this COVID-19 crisis. Our recent research shows that the average US household could require as much as 100 Mbit/s of bandwidth:
The rapid move of schools and workplaces online is placing customers in the position of asking for fiber capacity, says Katie Espeseth of EPB, a Chattanooga-based ISP. "Fiber optic networks offer tremendous network capacity and quality that's perfect for working from home," she said. "During this crisis, we've seen an uptick in products ranging from teleworker seats which combine internet and hosted phone to requests for 10 Gbit/s services to serve large scale enterprises. Thanks to Chattanooga's fiber-optic network, we're ready and able to meet those demands when our community needs us."
Mississippi-based C Spire also sees a fundamental role for fiber broadband in the crisis. "Our C Spire Home service, based on the Gigabit speed fiber-based connection, will help students do coursework from home and individuals to work remotely," said C Spire President and CEO Hu Meena.
Fiber broadband is the best technology to support our increased connectivity needs, offering the fastest, most reliable connection that enables us to get online from home.
And while fiber broadband ensures that enough bandwidth is available, the coronavirus also draws attention to the many Americans who do not have access to fiber broadband at home. We have to acknowledge that, for many, connectivity is sadly a "digital luxury," particularly in some rural and low-income communities. The current state of public health is now making digital connectivity essential, bringing to light our worst fears for communities that lack reliable home broadband.
School districts face difficult choices when transitioning to virtual learning since many students are unable to get online at home. For instance, across the river from me in Prince George's County, Maryland, the district was unable to shift classes online since many of the 136,000 students did not have broadband access at home. With Maryland schools closed for two weeks, teachers put together paper packets of worksheets instead. The homework gap is playing out right before us and is having real consequences for students.
This crisis demonstrates a need for infrastructure that can ensure that all students and all employees are able to get online. Fiber broadband not only provides fast internet speeds and greater bandwidth, it also future-proofs networks for emergencies like this. We need to reassess our networks, find ways to deploy more all-fiber broadband to connect all Americans, and close the digital divide and address the homework gap for good.
Operators such as Verizon have committed to investing in thousands of miles of fiber to support their 5G infrastructures, a vital component of this next-gen cellular technology that's expected to transform the world.
The strength of natural disasters like hurricanes is worsening, scientists say, and it's imperative that broadband infrastructures can withstand or be speedily repaired post-catastrophe, writes Fiber Broadband Association President and CEO Lisa Youngers.
Over the next two years, approximately 60% of service providers (both large and small) will adopt virtualization on a wide scale across their networks, according to the latest survey report from Ovum. Why are providers making these moves? Is there an easy way to start?
Learn how and why service providers are using virtualization to transform their networks. This webinar will look at how providers are leveraging virtualization to create more flexible and agile networks while also providing a better customer experience. Expert speakers from netElastic and Heavy Reading will address the industry drivers for network virtualization, the benefits that can be realized, the challenges to face and the results of virtualization being achieved by providers today.
Key topics will include:
Current network infrastructure and the move to virtualization
Benefits and challenges of network virtualization
How providers can get started
Service provider success stories: the decision to virtualize, the solution, and results