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With COVID-19 restrictions holding their place in governments globally, internet access may be more important now than ever before. Many students are still required to complete their studies at home, heightening the necessity for every household to have an internet subscription.
Though the pandemic has significantly increased the need for broadband internet at home, it has also decimated the global economy. Families are still picking up the pieces from lost jobs and sudden career changes hoisted on them by the unprecedented health crisis that has affected millions. This CNET article tells the story of a Scotish family that is struggling to keep up with their broadband internet payments, and risks having their internet intermittently cancelled as they fail to keep up with the payments. Their 13-year-old daughter relies on the internet to continue her studies, as the local schools have not resumed in-person operations more than a year after they first closed following government mandates.
The family in Scotland is not alone. The cost of smartphones, mobile data, and broadband internet continue to rise, and low-income households often do not earn wages to match the increase. About 15% of households in America still lack internet access. Nearly 4.7 million UK citizens are struggling to keep up with their broadband or mobile data bills.
The growing social, educational, and cultural disparity between those who can afford internet and those who can’t has been dubbed the ‘digital divide,’ and the conditions imposed by pandemic restrictions only worsened this phenomenon. Luckily, there is a silver lining — the extenuating circumstances that resulted from the COVID-19 have brought many social issues to light, including the digital divide. Though the divide existed before, it lacked media coverage and government assistance. With millions of households around the globe struggling to gain (or keep) internet access in a time where working and studying from home are the new normal, people have started to ask whether internet should be considered a basic need.
Cellphone inventor Martin Cooper has recently stated that internet access is “as essential as food and water.” He cites that the technology exists to deliver broadband service to underprivileged students for as little as $10 per month, however policymakers have failed to create systems that support its implementation.
Local governments around America have begun introducing legislation to provide assistance to those who lack access to the internet. New York City recently committed $157 million to the cause, and other municipalities, particularly in rural areas disproportionally affected by the divide, have also started looking into ways to bridge the gap.
As the internet, an exclusively privatized industry, becomes an increasingly important facet of our lives, many have slipped through the cracks due to its high cost. Thanks to the light shed on the issue by the pandemic, those who have been left behind are now receiving a helping hand.
More and More States are Looking to Provide Universal Broadband
Some states in America now see broadband internet as a universal right and are fighting to give it to all of their residents. And some of these states are now using the recently-passed American Rescue Plan as a way to do it.
In July of 2021, Virginia governor Ralph Northan announced a major plan that will expand broadband access to all Virginia residents by the year 2024. To make this plan a reality, Northam intends to use $700 million in federal funds set aside by the American Rescue Plan, which was passed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to assist citizens and states struggling to make ends meet. In total, more than $4 billion was promised to Virginia so Northam’s plan will just use a portion of the total sum.
Virginia isn’t alone in its quest to give all residents broadband access. Others such as Connecticut and the nation’s most-populated state, California, are promising to find ways to fund broadband for all. Connecticut’s plan is more comprehensive than California’s, with a goal of 2027 set in place. There is a good chance that more states will follow the lead created by these states as the demand for universal broadband becomes stronger and the need becomes more apparent.
In 2020, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia crated a report that found one in five Virginia students lacked high-speed internet or a computer at home. Broadband coverage has always been sparse in rural areas, with many residents unable to even pay for the service. The Coronavirus pandemic only highlighted the need for internet access for all citizens, as most were forced to work from home and all students were required to attend classes online. More and more people and politicians are beginning to speak out, stating that broadband access is a right that all Americans are entitled to.
With the 2022 mid-term elections beginning to loom over the American political landscape, the idea of creating broadband access for all Americans is becoming more and more popular, and will likely be a major debate point for politicians seeking office.
How Windows 365 Can Benefit Businesses
It’s no secret that Microsoft has been moving more towards digitizing many of their services. Xbox Cloud Gaming brings console gaming to a wider variety of users, lowering the barrier of entry and bringing the optimum experience to more devices. Now with the official upcoming release of Windows 365, Microsoft will again improve accessibility to one of their most popular services – Windows.
Windows 365 is the latest in cloud computing services (a development on their existing Azure) which allows anyone with app store or web browser access to be able to stream a full Windows 10/11 PC to their device. Laptops, tablets, phones, and even old PCs can act as a light client for the virtual PC (similar to a Virtual Machine), including Apple devices.
As a result, businesses all around the world can take advantage of the benefits provided by a consistent, cloud-accessible, and scalable solution for computing anywhere.
4 Major Benefits of Windows 365 for Business
Maintain a Uniform Experience Between Devices
One of the major problems resulting from the new hybrid workspaces that have developed as a result of COVID restrictions has been the inability to access work computers. Your company PC is likely to have all your work files, sufficient hardware, and the programs you need to do your job. But, you can’t always take your desktop home with you.
Windows 365 helps by creating a single virtual PC instance that maintains its state even when logged out. That means that if you leave something unfinished on your office PC, you can resume it directly from your laptop, tablet, or phone at home with the same resources available. No matter where it’s accessed from, Windows 365 provides a uniform experience to all devices.
Minimize Hardware Costs
Computer hardware advances quickly – and so do the expenses if you’re trying to stay up to date. All businesses need optimal performance from their hardware but it doesn’t make sense to replace computers regularly.
Windows 365 allows you to turn just about any device with a screen into a full-fledged Windows 10/11 PC. Old laptops, cell phones, and a variety of low-cost devices can act as mobile workstations without the investment it would take to achieve that performance with hardware.
On-Demand Performance Scaling
Do you ever wish you had more computer performance? Of course you do – and with Windows 365, you can get it with just a few clicks.
Businesses with Windows 365 accounts are able to assign resource plans to individual users that are part of their network. As long as a vacant subscription exists, administrators can change the plan tied to the user to something more powerful immediately. This unlocks more processing power and other resources, allowing for optimal performance when it is needed without hardware upgrades required.
Easy Onboarding of New Members
Whether you’re a growing startup or a seasonal business looking to bring in more help, onboarding with Windows 365 is as simple as ever.
To provide access to business files, resources, programs, and other important information, business owners can simply provide an account to the new employee on their network. They’ll immediately have access to a virtual business PC with everything they need – no dropbox, email attachments, or flash drives required.
SEC Arrives at Settlement with First American Financial Two Years After Breach of Data
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) pressed charges against First American Financial, a real estate company, for failing to abide by disclosure requirements and procedures. The acts of non-compliance came after personal identifying customer information was breached in 2019, including social security numbers and financial data. First American was found to be liable for having immense vulnerabilities in their cybersecurity management, rendering them in violation of Rule 13a-15(a) of the Exchange Act.
Shockingly, First American’s information security team discovered said vulnerabilities months in advance of senior management’s response to the incident, but they did not comply with company policies by advising their superiors about it. First American initially learned of the mishap, which consisted of at least 800 million images being revealed unintentionally, when a cybersecurity journalist contacted them with the unfortunate news. Despite First American rapidly issuing a statement once leadership learned of the incident, they were penalized for the overall poor structure of compliance regarding security of their electronic data.
The severity of this incident was emphasized through statements reiterating that all of the confidential information accidentally leaked was within reach of anyone who had access to the internet. Furthermore, the company’s reputation took another huge blow when they were confronted with accusations of failing to implement a sufficient cybersecurity system by the New York State Department of Financial Services’ Cybersecurity Regulation in July of 2020.
Although First American did not outright admit to any wrongdoing, they accepted a cease and desist order and settled their mistakes by paying a $487,616 fine. First American expressed gratitude for the resolution that was reached, and they asserted that complying with disclosure mandates set forth by the SEC will continue to be a priority for them. The penalty imposed on First American for their faults is sure to set an example for their industry, especially considering they hold 21.07% of the market share and are one of four top mortgage title companies.