The Importance of Funding for Fiber Optics in a COVID-19 World
Having a wireless internet connection has become so common for many of us that we often take for granted how connected we really are. Stay-at-home orders and quarantine enforcement at the beginning of this year brought the concept of connectedness to the forefront of our minds. While some people had enjoyed the flexibility of working from home as needed for some time, suddenly more and more businesses, many schools, and most healthcare facilities began to rely on their connectedness to continue to function. Many employees were sent home to work remotely, most brick and mortar schools went virtual, and many routine healthcare visits became available via video call.
With no end to this pandemic in the immediate view, many individuals are wondering how they can continue to live well in a virtual life. In March, people were surviving and adapting. Now that virtual is the norm, however, there are significant expectations that connectedness be accessible to all. Fiber optics offer all the benefits of connectivity as we know it with essentially none of the drawbacks. So, it’s in the best interest of all to prioritize setting up this technology as part of a COVID relief plan.
Work From Home
While we’re very thankful for the essential workers who must go into work each day, those who can work from home help to mitigate the spread of this virus. Employers can think of upgrading to a fiber optic system as an investment in the future of their company. With such upgrades, meetings can be held via video calls without the stress of lost signals or systems slowing down due to large file transfers. That’s because the high-quality fiber optics ensure that digital business practices are sustainable.
Huge numbers of students are taking classes at home now. A day of virtual learning consists of multiple video calls daily, accessing multiple virtual platforms to obtain and complete assignments, and emailing and chatting with teachers. If the available internet signal in your area is strong enough and you aren’t competing with multiple siblings all day long, it might be fine. But between the high cost of the internet and low performance on overworked systems, virtual learning isn’t a pleasant experience for many students. Any COVID-19 relief response ought to include significant funding for states to improve or expand fiber optic systems in order to better provide connectivity for their residents.
High-quality, remote healthcare is an incredible solution for a pandemic and also for rural areas where getting to a medical provider is challenging. Hospital networks and local practices, such as family medicine, physical therapists, and mental health counselors, have begun providing their patients with the option to meet virtually. In the most obvious sense, this virtual option can help to slow the spread of COVID-19 because patients who may be infected can stay home and still be evaluated by their doctor who can tell them if they need more advanced medical help. Virtual medicine also allows the elderly and other vulnerable patients to continue their regimen of care without leaving their residences and the risk of mixing with the general public.
Equity and Accessibility
The technology to connect everyone is readily available. Fiber optic systems can be built both overhead and underground in such a way that there is minimal impact to the surrounding area. It is possible to tap into existing sources in order to extend service to remote areas. Small cell fiber engineering improves wireless connections, which could likely be harnessed to benefit schools, businesses, and healthcare facilities. The expertise exists, but the funding for such a project must be considered essential by federal and local governments in order to adequately connect people to the resources they need in this increasingly virtual world.