The COVID-19 crisis is affecting us all, and as communities grapple with how to respond, many tech companies and network carriers are stepping up to ease burdens where they can. In the past week we’ve seen teleconferencing providers offering free service to schools, carriers offering free connectivity or expanded data caps, and many companies halting disconnects during the crisis to Keep Americans Connected.

These are great early efforts, but there is still so much more we can do.

Through the US Ignite Smart Gigabit Communities (SGC) project – a project started with funding from the National Science Foundation – we have a network of more than two dozen communities dedicated to exchanging ideas and best practices. We’re using that network now to collect and compile recommendations for how to make broadband connectivity more effective and accessible.

Please read below for a short list of actions that carriers and service providers should consider. These are ways not only to improve broadband connectivity, but also to support overall community resilience during the current health crisis.


Recommendations for Improving Connectivity

  • Prioritize network traffic to critical local agencies such as healthcare providers, public safety agencies, and schools.
  • Offer expanded or free VPN services for government employees, healthcare workers, or schools that need to work remotely.
  • Provide expanded caching of government websites, healthcare resources, or even online streaming services to ease the at home experience.
  • Increase tech support for communities going online.
  • Increase or remove bandwidth or data caps.
  • Provide hosting services for non-profits or community groups.

In the tech industry, but not a broadband provider? Here are a few things any company can do to help:

  • Donate surplus computers  to government or schools to support remote workers who don’t have a home computer.
  • Point to credible online sources from your landing page for important resources, information, and aid to help during the crisis.
  • Develop online resources in partnership with nonprofits, government, or community groups to help communicate market hours, healthcare service changes, or other critical information that helps the community navigate changes.

If your community has more recommendations or best practices to share, please let us know.

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