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EMAILED ON March 24, 2020 BY Nick DeSantis

As isolation drags on, can the internet keep up?

You’re working from home. You’re firin’ off Slack messages, puttin’ out fires on Zoom calls, and signin’ into Netflix to zone out at the end of the day.

Maybe your partner is, too. And if you’ve got kids at home, maybe they’re jumping online to tackle schoolwork or to give you just one dang moment of peace, please?!

Sound familiar? There are a LOT of people doing the same thing. That means the internet is feeling some serious strain right now.

Can the information superhighway steer clear of gridlock?

The web’s biggest traffic cops are trying to make sure it does. 

Major streaming services like YouTube, Netflix, and Disney+ are throttling down to the standard-def lane, so they don’t stall out under the load of millions of bored-out-of-their-skulls consumers.

Meanwhile, top internet-service providers are lifting data caps to keep traffic flowing smoothly. Verizon is even giving its wireless customers an extra 15GB of high-speed data through the end of April.

That doesn’t mean it’s green lights everywhere

Facebook traffic is going bananas, but the surge isn’t translating to more ad dollars. In fact, the ’book’s ad biz is weakening.

More importantly: It is still a privilege to have access to high-speed internet in the first place. The Pew Research Center found that 63% of rural Americans have broadband access — 12 percentage points fewer than their city-slicking counterparts.

The gap is an especially big problem for schools, because the digital divide could leave some kids in the dust.

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