In March 2020 everything that could be moved online already has, from elementary schools to college classes, from entire company workforces to shareholder meetings. Whole cities have emptied under the coronavirus threat as businesses tell employees to work from home, students are sent indoors to learn online and every type of entertainment— from restaurants and sporting venues to movie theaters — shutters, forcing people to stay home and rely on their home broadband networks to interact with the outside world.
This switch-over is unprecedented, which begs the question: Can our current networks handle the strain?
Moreover, is the coronavirus outbreak and the “social distancing″ required to mitigate the spread going to become the business case for more advanced and robust 5G technologies for a future in which business, health care and human interaction must be at more than an arm’s length?
The jury is still out on whether home broadband, which tends to have lower capacity than more robust business networks, will be able to handle the traffic as whole neighborhoods become Wi-Fi hotbeds as adults video conference with their co-workers and their teens stream videos in between checking Blackboard for assignments. Providers, including AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast, are facing a test of whether they’ll be able to handle the increased demand.
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