Government considers cutting home internet service during pandemic

U.S. pandemic options include crippling home modems

computerworld.com | Oct 30, 2009

The U.S. has a dark box of options for keeping Internet traffic flowing during a pandemic, including restricting the bandwidth capability of home modems.

The feds have already shown their willingness to impose their power on carriers because of national security, something that happened after 9/11 with the Patriot Act. If a pandemic keeps large numbers of the workforce at home and causes network congestion, the U.S. government will likely act again.

Most businesses and government agencies have diverse routing and pay carriers handsomely for bandwidth rich connections. But if a pandemic keeps 30% or more of the population at home, the so-called low bandwidth “last mile” to homes will be critical but in trouble as legions of at-home employees attempt work along with those playing networked games and streaming video.

Voluntary appeals to reduce Internet use will likely be the first option for policy makers. But if that doesn’t work, the U.S. General Accountability Office report this week on pandemic planning and networks, outlined some of the other possibilities.

One “technically feasible alternative,” wrote the GAO, is to temporarily cripple home user modems…

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