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Biden Infrastructure Bill: $100 billion to expand broadband access
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

With the majority of Americans hoping to work from home in some capacity after the pandemic, the Biden Administration is dedicating $100 billion toward expanding broadband access in an attempt to give every citizen access to performant Internet.

A recent report from the Federal Communications Commission estimated that as of December 2019 (ie. just before pandemic restrictions took hold), roughly 14.5 million Americans were living in areas without access to fixed, reliable broadband.

At the same time, reports from Microsoft and Broadband Now estimate that the number of Americans lacking broadband access is actually significantly higher than the government’s estimates.

This comes as AppNeta’s 2021 Work From Anywhere Outlook highlights just how many knowledge workers are located outside of the traditional carrier-rich urban settings where broadband connections are most prevalent. Since March of 2020, 21 percent of respondents relocated from their original address, with the American workforce now nearly evenly dispersed among urban areas, suburban areas, and rural areas.

This broader trend of urban decentralization creates new challenges for already strapped IT teams, as delivering optimal internet connectivity to residential and rural communities requires employers and IT teams to set user expectations around the quality of their network performance.

The Biden Administration’s plan would target underserved areas and prioritize support for broadband networks affiliated with local governments, nonprofits and cooperatives, while also setting aside funds for tribal lands, which represent the most broadband-starved regions.

The plan aims to help foster robust competition in the broadband market to benefit consumers, who often have little choice in choosing a local broadband provider. It would remove obstacles that prevent municipally owned or affiliated providers and rural co-ops from competing fairly with private companies, while requiring price transparency.

But enabling remote work requires a lot more than just sufficient broadband access out to knowledge workers. The more decentralized an enterprise network becomes, the more stakeholders become involved in delivering business-critical workflows and traffic out to far flung remote users.

Of the technology-related issues causing frustration in the past year for remote employees, we found that while the biggest gripe among end-users polled in our WFA Outlook cited Internet connectivity (44 percent), issues with video calls (40 percent) were almost just as prevalent. The rub here is that performance issues impacting video calls can come from a variety of error domains across the work-from-home network footprint, including poor Internet connectivity. The footprint for error in the decentralized enterprise simply requires more visibility than ever to stay on top of performance impacts.

Unsurprisingly, more than one-third of end-users shared that they were frustrated by technology challenges and experiences with their employer’s IT team since the pandemic, even though 21 percent of respondents acknowledged that the IT team may be doing their best in the circumstances.

All of this is to say that no matter what infrastructure improvements take place in the future, IT will require a more diverse and scalable toolset to deliver on ever-higher employee expectations, regardless of where they are located (or even their ISP).

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Filed Under: Industry Insights

Tags: network management, network performance monitoring, enterprise IT, enterprise, decentralization, network decentralization, enterprise network, work from anywhere, future of work, work from home, remote work, bill, infrastructure, Biden Administration, Biden, providers, ISP, internet, broadband

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