Also in this roundup: Ofcom breaks down UK Internet activity during pandemic; some ISPs extend some of their COVID-19 measures; and the EFF urges US lawmakers to pass a universal fiber plan.
UK adults have spent the pandemic Zooming and TikToking the days away, according to recent data from Ofcom released in its annual Online Nation report. Ofcom data shows that TikTok reached 12.9 million UK adult visitors in April, up from just 5.4 million in January. And Zoom grew from 659,000 UK adult users to a wild 13 million – representing a 2,000% increase in that same timeframe. Further, adults aged 65+ have been racking up the video chats, with the percentage of individuals who make at least one video call per week jumping from 22% in February 2020 to 61% by May 2020.
Nokia scored a win this week, announcing that it will supply 100% of the active equipment for National Broadband Ireland's FTTH network. The overall goal of the National Broadband Plan (NBP) is to provide high-speed connectivity to the entire Irish population, "including 23% of whom currently live in the more rural Intervention Area (IA) where the NBP will be focused," according to a press release.
As June comes to a close, and with it the end of the "Keep Americans Connected" pledge, ISPs are sorting out whether or not they will extend some measures implemented at the height of nationwide stay-at-home orders. One of those providers is Cable One/Sparklight. As Jeff Baumgartner writes for Light Reading, while the company will not extend the relaxation of its data cap policies past June 30, it will bend on some other measures, including offering its 15Mbit/s residential Internet plan for $10 per month for the first three months, providing free access to public Wi-Fi hotspots, and it will waive late fees through July 31. Other ISPs following suit with some continued assistance include Cox Communications, which said it will raise data allowances by 25%, to 1.25TB, to help consumers stay within their plans. Mediacom Communications is extending its pandemic-inspired initiatives through July and August. And feeling the revolutionary spirit, Antietam Broadband of Maryland will abolish its data-based policies entirely.
On the subject of Keeping Americans Connected (or more accurately, Getting Americans Connected), the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is urging Congress and the industry at large to get behind a bill in the House of Representatives called "The Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act" (H.R. 7302). The bill, proposed by Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) would "create an $80 billion fiber infrastructure program run by a new Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth that would coordinate all federal infrastructure efforts with state governments." In an article supporting the bill, Ernesto Falcone, Sr. Legislative Council at EFF, explains that implementing this law would allow the US to match China's efforts to build universal fiber, would enable next-generation Wi-Fi and 5G applications everywhere in the country and that "the issue of the digital divide would be solved in its entirety and properly relegated to the history books." Without this bill, he says, the country's transition to full fiber will take decades and nothing will be solved.
Further, in a takedown of anticipated opposition and industry lobbying, Falcone writes:
The big ISPs, which fail to deliver universal access but enjoy comfortable monopolies and charge you prices at 200% to 300% above competitive rates, will resist this effort. Even when it is profitable to deliver fiber, the national ISPs have chosen not to do it in exchange for short-term profits. A massive infrastructure program, the kind that helped countries like South Korea become global leaders in broadband, aren't just desperately needed in the United States, it is a requirement. No other country on planet Earth has made progress in delivering universal fiber without an infrastructure policy of this type.
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?
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