In the pandemic era, millions more of us are now working remotely for the first time. Remote work setups do a lot to implement key social distancing, to limit the spread of the dangerous virus. They primarily require two things – adequate hardware, and access to the Internet.
News this morning from USA Today shows that major telecom provider Comcast/XFINITY is offering many thousands of free Wi-Fi hotspots across the country to help residents log on to whatever they’re trying to access, whether it’s a company’s discrete network, or a place to shop or pay their bills digitally.
“Comcast says that since offering the service, overall usage of the public WiFi hotspots has ‘skyrocketed,’” writes Jefferson Graham, detailing where Comcast service areas include this kind of temporary provision.
Nor is Comcast the only company offering this kind of connectivity in the Covid era. Google, for its part, is extending its service in Google Fiber enabled service areas in an unprecedented way, with a sunset clause projected for when we imagine coronavirus might be over.
In addition Google is pursuing other changes; for instance, new Google Maps changes will show information about travel restrictions meant to help slow the spread.
“COVID-19 has certainly impacted the way that we move around in the world,” Google Maps product management director Ramesh Nagarajan said in a press statement, according to a CBS report. “As cities and countries across the globe adapt, we’re committed to bringing the most pertinent information right to your fingertips. So when you’re ready and able to, you can safely venture out.”
What does increased broadband do for the economy?
A lot, actually.
“There is no question that accessibility to broadband is a requirement for individuals to thrive in today’s U.S. economy,” writes Delaney Crampton at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. “Students need broadband to access the internet to do homework and apply to colleges. Working families need it to apply to jobs and to access various government services, and seniors are increasingly reliant on broadband accessibility to connect to the growing world of telehealth.”
Investors would do well to watch how big companies respond to the coronavirus, because it’s quite certain that markets are going to change in a big way. Your strategy and your portfolio will never be the same – how these things change is up to you.