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Can U.S. internet infrastructure handle increased demand? Experts weigh in

As schools and businesses nationwide are urging staff and students to work from home due to the outbreak of coronavirus, experts have said that the U.S. internet infrastructure should be able to handle the increased strain on demand — mostly. As reported by the Associated Press, experts are predicting that internet access will continue to be available, but some issues are likely to arise. People may have to settle for audio-only conferencing if too many people are trying to use videoconferencing at the same time, for example.

“The core of the network is massively over-provisioned,” Paul Vixie, CEO of Farsight Security and infrastructure expert told AP. As the national internet infrastructure has developed over time to handle bandwidth-demanding services like Netflix and YouTube, it should have no problem handling the increase in demand due to many people staying home.

Senators call for help from ISPs

Earlier this week, U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and 17 of his colleagues called on the CEOs of major internet service providers to make accommodations for the spike in remote work caused by the coronavirus outbreak. As well as remote work, there is also an increased strain on internet services due to a rise in remote learning for schoolchildren and students, and remote telehealth services as well.

“As organizations around the country formulate their responses to the recent outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, we write to discuss the steps that your company is taking to accommodate the unprecedented reliance we will likely see on telepresence services, including telework, online education, telehealth, and remote support services,” the senators wrote.

“Specifically, we ask that you temporarily suspend broadband caps and associated fees or throttling for all communities affected by COVID-19 and work with public school districts, colleges, and universities to provide free, or at-cost, broadband options for students whose schools close due to COVID-19 who don’t have access at home.”

ISPs have responded by making more allowances and on Saturday, the senator welcomed the announcements from a number of ISPs that they would suspend data caps and provide free broadband in some areas.

Remote work has become the norm across many industries in the last month, including the technology industry. Some of the big names asking their employees to work remotely include Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.

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Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
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