Delivered daily: The end of broadband networks

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Is the internet down?

Before “You’re on mute”, asking if the internet is down was that one question most asked across companies and homes.

We’ve all experienced the internet being down, whether perception (your router/WiFo) or for a very small amount of time.

And it freaks us out. For a lot of reasons.

Then that uneasy feeling passes and we’re back to our normal day.

What would happen if we stopped building and expanding our broadband networks? What if that perception was real?

In 2008, the US Department of Homeland Security asked Borg to look into what might happen if the internet went down. Borg and his colleagues analysed the economic effects of computer and internet outages in the US from 2000 onwards. Looking at quarterly financial reports from the 20 companies that claimed to be most affected in each case, as well as more general economic statistics, they discovered that the financial impact of an outage was surprisingly insignificant – at least for outages that lasted no more than four days, which is all they studied.

The internet is so intertwined into our daily lives, we likely take great advantage of it, not knowing its full impact.

Look at any recent report and you’ll see the impact the internet has on seemingly mundane tasks and activities, like watching television.

And the thinking that the pandemic sped up the use of the internet might slow post-pandemic hasn’t quite played out:

Change in 4Q data usage:

  • 4Q18-4Q19: +27%
  • 4Q19-4Q20: +40%
  • 4Q20-4Q21: +11%
  • 4Q21-4Q22: +9%

(The rate of growth has slowed, however growth continues.)

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There’s no way we can live without the internet and broadband networks.


The pandemic

During the pandemic, we saw the entire world shift.

Not only in the global despair of losing so much.

Also in how humans reacted.

  • We weren’t able to go into work? We shifted how we work.
  • We weren’t able to visit our favorite places? We shifted when we would go out.
  • We had restrictions on how we entered buildings? We shifted what we did.

While we were still connected (internet service providers were classified as critical infrastructure providers), everything changed.

Like, everything.

With so much sorrow still with us, many of us moved forward.

And many of us are seeing life a little differently.

An internet pandemic

So, what if we stopped building broadband networks?

And what if the internet wasn’t so embedded in our daily lives and activities?

What if our ability to access broadband networks just stopped?

There were gradations of terror – at times came rumours of hope-the Mending Apparatus was almost mended – the enemies of the Machine had been got under – new ‘nerve-centres’ were evolving which would do the work even more magnificently than before. But there came a day when, without the slightest warning, without any previous hint of feebleness, the entire communication-system broke down, all over the world, and the world, as they understood it, ended.

While that seems a little far-fetched, the pandemic was something we didn’t ever think about.

“No way would that happen in our lifetime” was likely a confident phrase before the pandemic and a one of disbelief after the pandmic.

Yet, here we are.

What’s next

My hope is we’ll continue to focus on human needs, and we’re starting to see that continuation through several activities:

  • Federal programs like the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
  • Federal and State programs providing and managing grants to continue building out broadband networks
  • Focusing on rural communities and tribal areas to bring new ideas and opportunities online

And that’s good for everyone.


This was a good week of thinking and writing about broadband networks, a topic (telecommunications) that I’m continually fascinated with.

Even after so many years of undergrad studies.

And one, like water or electricity, that we all take for granted.

Maybe the future of broadband networks will be based on specific needs.

  • At work: A fast, reliable connection is needed
  • At home: A good connection is needed
  • Traveling: A roaming connection is needed

This specific usage approach might even allow for better business models.

Thank you

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