Millions of working Americans combat poor connectivity amid COVID-19: Report

Roughly 85 million people are now working from home due to COVID-19

As a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 57.7% of the U.S. began working from home, according to a new report commissioned by Waveform, a cellular signal booster provider. The good news is that of those workers, 60.4% said they prefer working from home, and 48.9% of respondents wish that it was a permanent change. But the bad news? Millions of those workers are struggling with poor connectivity.

Image courtesy of Waveform.

Working from home means relying on internet and cellular connectivity, and as Americans adjust to remote work, Waveform has seen “a large uptick in the number of users purchasing cell phone signal boosters in the last two weeks.”

Waveform crunched some numbers, concluding that if, there are approximately 150 million people in the U.S. workforce, it can be estimated that roughly 85 million people are now working from home due to coronavirus.

While only 12.5% of respondents said they had “bad” or “very bad” signal at home, it’s important to remember that, just as when you read that COVID-19 only kills 1.4% of those infected, small percentages of large numbers equals another staggering number: 12.5% of 85 million is 10.2 million.

In other words, it’s reasonable to estimate that at least 10.2 million U.S. workers are struggling to get adequate cell coverage as they work and check in on loved ones.

Further, when comparing the data to its previous report, Waveform saw a decrease of 11.0% in reports of “very good signal” at home, which brings the number of workers who have poor cell signal — or anything other than a “very good signal” — up to 10.6 million.

Image courtesy of Waveform.

In addition, Waveform noticed that many of the consumers reaching out for connectivity support aren’t just looking for voice coverage; they’re specifically looking to use LTE as an alternative or replacement to their home broadband.

As a result, Waveform looked into the percentage of users that are experiencing issues with Internet connectivity while working from home, discovering that 52.9% of respondents reported internet connectivity issues at least once a month, while 15.5% of respondents experienced issues on a daily basis. Below is a pie chart detailing respondents’ answers to the question “how often do you have issues with Internet connectivity working from home?”

Image courtesy of Waveform.

Again, after taking into account the number of people now working from home, it can be estimated that around 13.2 million are experiencing daily internet connectivity issues.

Numbers — all the numbers — circulating right now are scary, and trying to be productive and effective in the current situation can feel overwhelming. As I write this, my partner and I, both working remotely, are taking turns aggressively clicking our mouse in frustration as functions fail to load.

But companies are stepping up. AT&T, for instance, is offering a new, low cost plan and more data for their customers during this crisis. And, in an effort to deliver now necessary educational tools as school shifts to the home, Ericsson has collaborated with local partners to quickly provide students in Rutland, VT with free high-speed wireless internet and Google Chromebooks.

These examples are just a few in a growing list, bringing us hope and reminding us that, though under strict orders to maintain distance, we’re a whole lot closer than we thought.

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