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Coronavirus and Connectivity – Even the FCC is involved

A continuing series on the outbreak in the US

Think that it’s farfetched that the FCC suggests connectivity is crucial in the Coronavirus response? Think again. FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks told Congress that communications networks have a vital role in responding to the outbreak. On Tuesday March 10th, he called for a “connectivity and economic stimulus” plan to address the Coronavirus by increasing access to broadband connections in underserved areas.

The Commissioner suggested several forms of stimulus including:

“1. Consider expediting waivers and experimental licenses that will expand network capabilities;
2. Creating additional WiFi capacity by temporarily authorizing use of the 5.9 GHz band;
3. Awarding grants for capacity upgrades in underserved communities impacted by the coronavirus;
4. Encouraging providers to offer low-cost program options that could extend a basic internet connection for millions of Americans and to deploy their emergency assets, such a cell sites on wheels, to unserved communities.”

Paying for all of this could come from the FCC’s Universal Services Fund which contains billions of dollars collected from service providers in the US. This program is designed to bring connectivity to unserved Americans on an affordable basis. Starks commented that, with the virus forcing more people to stay home and work from home, this connectivity is ever more critical.

By using this increased broadband access, he commented, “We can help ensure that people who need treatment can seek it safely and those who need to be at home can stay there. As yesterday’s stock market activity made clear, this health crisis may have dramatic economic consequences.”

There is no question that he is correct. If there are Americans who have no cell coverage and no broadband connection, their ability to stay home, work from home or be quarantined at home
would be gravely impaired. If they were to fall ill and not be able to call for help, it could turn out to be life-threatening.

Stay informed by visiting www.connectedremag.com. We will continue to bring you news and information on Coronavirus and Connectivity as a continuing series from Connected Real Estate Weekly.

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