For over 10 years, the telecommunications industry waited for a driving force to make fiber connections to the home mandatory. Some thought it would be 4K television or virtual reality games. It’s a surprise that this driving force is the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation creates a digital divide like no other. It’s not just that people cannot watch movies on Netflix or download a game in 10 minutes. Without high-speed internet and wireless connectivity, people are left virtually high and dry—separated from the rest of the world.

Let's look at some reasons why fiber optic connections are important.

  • The ability to make a living. As more of us use home offices, the need to collaborate over the internet is now an integral part of our day. Skype, Zoom and Microsoft® Teams all require high-speed, low latency connections for effective communication. Participating in a teleconference when there’s a bad connection often throws the whole meeting into disarray. Those who live in an underserved or rural area without broadband risk losing their jobs or have to stay with relatives or friends with better connections.
  • Education. I hope that this year's school season works out and that students are able to be in their classrooms safely. My son's college is holding all of his classes online. If your child is required to attend classes virtually, the need for high-quality streaming video and sound is key. Slower speed connections or unreliable service problems often interfere with a student's ability to learn in this new online world.
  • Social connections. With social distancing keeping many families apart, video conferencing and calling are huge boons to many people. This is especially true for vulnerable people who must isolate for their protection. Seeing each other's facial expressions in real time helps us to keep those emotional connections with loved ones. Many use YouTube, Facebook Live and other sources for their connection to organizations. These connections not only aid our mental health, but also create a sense of community while maintaining a safe environment for everyone.
  • Health. Telemedicine is important for people during this time. Seeking medical advice without leaving your home is crucial for vulnerable patients. If the doctor cannot visually see the condition or location of the pain, they may not be able to properly diagnose the issue. Again, high-speed internet creates a conduit between patients and their caregivers. Wireless telemedicine is especially helpful for places without good cable connections or for areas in which installing cable links is difficult or expensive. It is also life-saving in cases of natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes.

Clearfield® in partnership with the service provider community is committed to delivering fiber-based broadband services to all customers, including those in underserved areas. We work with the nation's best telephone companies, Cable MSOs, Municipalities, Utilities, Mobile Network Operators and ISPs to ensure high-quality, reliable networks. Our world-class product innovations connect millions of customers via fiber. Those connections help people now more than ever to maintain their livelihood and even thrive in this unpredictable world.

Please stay safe and healthy…and please contact Clearfield if we can help in any way.

By Tom Warren

For over 17 years, Tom Warren has worked with Clearfield in the engineering world of telecommunications. As a Clearfield Sales Engineer, Tom provides support to carrier customers and OEMs. Tom’s expertise includes in-depth knowledge of WDMs, FTTx, Small Cell and DAS Fiber applications.