Guest column: COVID-19 teaches about essential need for high-speed broadband

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 30, 2020

By Stacy Hale

At the end of the 2019-2020 school year, most students left the physical classroom and school districts learned how to better connect with students and parents from a distance.

As school officials decide how to offer education for the coming school year, technology will again likely be a main source of connection for teachers and students, whether that be for in-person instruction, virtual classrooms or a mix of both. Access to broadband and online security will remain hot topics for some time to come.

Because of our long-term, multi-year plan to drive fiber-fast speed deeper into our 18-state footprint, Kinetic enabled approximately 100,000 new locations in the first six months of 2020 with gigabit-capable services. In North Carolina alone, more than 34,000 new locations now have gig speed available, including Lexington, Denton, Southmont and Welcome.

That’s not just bragging on our part. Connection matters to families in the Tar Heel State. According to a Pew research study, 53% of Americans say the internet has been essential during the COVID-19 pandemic. High-speed broadband and technology may serve the greatest role connecting students and teachers this fall. With a rise in virtual classrooms expected and a corresponding demand for parents to work remotely, reliable broadband with speeds high enough to meet a family’s demands is critical.

Multiple devices in one household must be connected at the same time without a lag in speed, so students can stay connected to classrooms while parents stay connected to their home office.

Parents and teachers aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed the rise in online usage. Bad actors online have also taken note. We’ve all heard the blunders of unwanted visitors joining virtual meetings in the spring. That’s why it’s important to use secure virtual meeting solutions to provide students with a secure virtual meeting space that’s protected by a personal login and with the ability for one-on-one video conferencing. Keeping students connected through a safe platform is a top priority of every school district.

I encourage parents, administrators and teachers alike to take a look at the technologies available to ensure they are using or have access to the most secure and advanced tools to stay connected, whether that’s at school or at home. 

Since the start of COVID-19 and the shift of Americans moving their online activity to home, the FBI has reported a 300% increase in cybercrimes. It’s just as important to mitigate online security threats at home as schools would navigate potential in-person safety issues at school. The right security solutions can protect your family’s personal and financial information. 

Stacy Hale is president of state operations in North Carolina for Kinetic by Windstream, a provider of fiber and broadband internet service.