Once the coronavirus hit, registered nurse Shannon Garcia suddenly needed to work from home, like thousands of others in the U.S. Not only would her isolation make space in a crowded hospital, she’d keep herself safe. Having cardiac arrhythmia and lung damage, she’s more vulnerable to the global virus taking a toll on her health.
But she faced a serious problem: a lack of internet access. Internet service providers (ISPs) don’t deliver internet in Clatskanie, Oregon, where she and her family live on a farm surrounded by cattle ranchers. She couldn’t contact her pregnant patients over video chat to check up on them.
Perplexed about what to do, she stumbled upon a rather atypical organization, Althea Network, running near her local community. She “stalked” them, she said, until they came to her area.
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By looking to this small cryptocurrency company, she was able to get the internet when big internet companies couldn’t help her.
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significant portion of the U.S. population.’ data-reactid=”32″>Even before this crisis, access to the internet was a problem for many across the world, in what’s become known as the “digital divide.” And if it seems like the internet is ubiquitous in the U.S., costs and accessibility have long been problems for a significant portion of the U.S. population.
55.1 million students. Many of these kids are expected to turn to learning online. But three million U.S. students don’t have their own access to the internet. ‘ data-reactid=”34″>Now schools are closing to try to contain the coronavirus, impacting 55.1 million students. Many of these kids are expected to turn to learning online. But three million U.S. students don’t have their own access to the internet.
I am happy to be a relay because I can make money.
Simpier hopes Althea will be able to fill that need for some of these kids, so the company is working to grow its networks beyond Oregon. “Right now we are primarily working on expanding our networks,” Simpier said.
Up until December Althea has been putting a proof of concept together, and it has been mostly focused on Oregon, with networks splattered across the state. Now, with the pressing needs of the crisis, Simpier thinks there could be opportunity to build networks almost anywhere.
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Simpier argued this flexibility is suitable for this crisis, seeing as people need internet connections right now to work or learn. It isn’t exactly feasible to wait for expensive, giant radio towers to be built.
The goal right now is to figure out how to set up these networks in as little as two weeks to address the crisis.
Simpier hopes the network will grow on its own out of need, like a vine growing uncontrollably in several different directions. Anyone running one of the intermediary relay devices can make money and other people can add relays to broadcast the signal further..
Yax Yax in Abuja, for one, is trying to onboard as many people as possible. He’s just waiting for more antennas to be sent in so he can help to start another network in Lagos, Nigeria, about 434 miles away from Abuja.
- The Year the Internet Thought I Was MacKenzie Bezos – WIRED
- Easy ways to get the fastest internet connection possible in your home – Komando
- Elon Musk says Starlink internet private beta to begin in roughly three months, public beta in six – TechCrunch
- Verizon is canceling home internet installations during the pandemic – The Verge
- Ethiopia’s internet shutdowns are disrupting millions of lives – Quartz Africa
- How to check if your service provider is throttling your internet – CNET
- 8 charts on internet use around the world as countries grapple with COVID-19 – Pew Research Center
- How to boost your home internet speeds while you’re stuck at home: Tech Support – Yahoo Money
- Welcome (Back) to the Appointment Internet – New York Magazine