Podcast: What the COVID Crisis Teaches Us About Broadband Policy, With Special Guests Larry Downes and Blair Levin

(Ed. Note: The “Innovation Fact of the Week” appears as a regular feature in each edition of ITIF’s weekly email newsletter. Sign up today.)

The COVID-induced isolation economy has demonstrated just how important broadband networks are for work, learning, and entertainment. But it has also highlighted important gaps, such as the rural divide and the “homework divide,” that government policy can play a role in filling. Rob and Jackie discuss these issues with broadband and IT experts Larry Downes, a senior industry and innovation fellow at Georgetown University’s Center for Business & Public Policy, and Blair Levin, a nonresident senior fellow with the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program and prior director of the 2010 National Broadband Plan.

 

Mentioned

Auto-Transcript

Rob Atkinson: Welcome to Innovation Files. I’m Rob Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. We’re a DC based think tank that works on technology policy.

Jackie Whisman: I’m Jackie Whisman. I’ve been with ITIF for over a decade now, and part of my job is making sure Rob doesn’t forget to tell you that we are the world’s top ranked think tank for science and technology policy.

Rob Atkinson: This podcast is about the kinds of issues we cover at ITIF from the broad economics of innovation to specific policy and regulatory questions about new technologies. In this episode, we’re focusing on the Internet and broadband, something that’s pretty critical to these days when most of us or many of us are at home.

Jackie Whisman: Rob, I was just talking to my parents about the blizzard of 1996 and how I was snowed in at a friend’s house for over a week. There was no possibility of being connected in any way to my teachers, which was great. Then I really only talked to my parents for quick call home once a day, and things just really shut down, which was kind of crazy to think because fast forward to today, I’m recording a podcast with you over the Internet and my daughter’s on a Zoom call with her preschool class.

Rob Atkinson: Yeah, we can we take it for granted, but really when you think about it compared to say 20 years ago, it’s pretty incredible. As hard as it’s been for some of us to pivot to this work at home structure, not necessarily me, I kind of like it, but in a lot of ways, we’re lucky that ... To say we’re lucky, but if the pandemic were to hit, it’s better to hit now. Then 10 years ago because so many more of us are equipped with the Internet and broadband to be able to handle the kinds of things that we need to do.

So today, to talk more about this, including how our broadband networks are working and where we need to go in the future, we’re delighted to have Larry Downs and Blair Levin, who recently coauthored a piece for the Aspen Institute entitled “The Internet After COVID-19: Will We Mind the Gaps?”

Jackie Whisman: Larry Downs is a bestselling author on developing business strategies in an age of accelerating technological disruption. He is the coauthor with Paul Nunes of Big Bang Disruption: Strategy In The Age Of Devastating Innovation. Blair Levin is a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings Institution. He’s a former chief of staff at the FCC and he oversaw the development of The National Broadband Plan. He’s also a longtime member of ITIF’s board. Thanks for being here at Blair and Larry.

Blair Levin: Pleasure to be here.

Rob Atkinson: So Blair and Larry, I thought the money quote from the Aspen report, was quote, “When it comes to the Internet, the COVID-19 crisis is teaching us that we’re so much better off than we could have been, but not as good as we need to be.” So why don’t we start with the first of that, better off than we could have been. What’s the good news here? Why are we better off? How are we better off?

Blair Levin: I think we’re better off in a couple of ways. Probably the most significant is when we did The National Broadband Plan, which was only 10 years ago, the average download speed was 4.1 megabits per second. The average download speed in the United States now, I think is about 140 megabits per second so that’s more than 35 times increase. Whether it’s doing this podcast, or all the Zoom, online educations, or the work, or all the streaming videos that keep us sane, those would not have been possible in a world of where the average speed was 4.1 down. It’s not everywhere. There are certainly areas that don’t have that kind of Internet, but that’s a big change.

I would also say that there were certain things that are in a way smaller, we now have a first responder network that we didn’t have before. I think that has been very helpful to the first responder community in a variety of ways that are largely un-touted in the news cycle. I think there are certain things such as the Internet Essentials program of Comcast, which has added 8 million people to the Internet, low income people, it was something that kind of came out of The National Broadband Plan, but it was a voluntary private effort. So there are a lot of smaller things that add up to more people having better Internet. That certainly helps in this situation.

Rob Atkinson: Larry, thoughts?

Larry Downes: Yeah. I would just add that it’s not just the network that has been improved in the last 10 years, it’s everything behind it. So we have giant move architecturally to cloud services, to app-based computing, to software-as-a-service. All these things have made it much easier for businesses to shift, maybe not overnight, but some cases overnight, to things like virtual meetings and call centers and online banking and online learning. Without that infrastructure, and not just the network, but also of the software behind the network, none of this would have been possible. Let alone as easy as it has been.

Rob Atkinson: No, that’s a great point. One of the things you point out in this piece is that the U.S. hasn’t experienced the kind of shutdowns or reductions in the quality of the broadband networks that other countries have. I was listening to some comments by the head of the Australian Public Broadband Network, their national broadband network, and they were having some problems there. He actually was advising people if you could, to only use one device at a time in your house. So I know in my house, we’re streaming Netflix, sometimes three of us on three different programs, but in Australia, you’re only supposed to do that once. Why did the U.S. networks hold up reasonably well compared to maybe some other countries like Australia? You hear the same thing, sometimes in France or other European countries where there are limitations.

Blair Levin: First, let me say that I hope that we study what happened, as we used to say when writing The National Broadband Plan, “The plural of anecdote is not data.” There are a lot of anecdotes and part of what happened in Europe, I think, but I’m not sure is that the European regulators, they were more concerned, and therefore, as a prophylactic matter, decided to tell people to slow it down. But it’s not at all clear what the real data is. I hope that we actually study that.

But having said that there was in 2010, like I said, the Internet was rather slow. What was going on then was, you had cable as the dominant provider in terms of download speeds. Their competitor, the telco companies, were looking at the fiber experimentation that Verizon had done with Fios, which Wall Street hated. They were not interested in investing a lot in fiber. But various things happened including the Google Fiber project, which itself was also a private effort that came out of discussions we had with them during the plan, and that caused a couple of things to happen.

One is it brought new competition and the Google Fiber stopped after about 35 cities. It led to an upgrade by cable and the telecos in a lot of those cities, massive increases in speed. But the other thing was it led to cities adopting new policies toward how they would enable people to lay more fiber. That was actually helpful, not just to Google Fiber, but also AT&T and CenturyLink. So you saw, even though Wall Street initially hated it, a move to fiber. Then eventually, as we now see in the Frontier bankruptcy, fiber being a much better business model than the prior DSL model.

Larry Downes: Yeah. I would just add, to give credit where credit is due, the National Broadband Plan itself was a big part of the investment that happened in the last decade in the United States. It set a vision, it set stretch goals, it renewed competition, and also encouraged a lot more investment, both at the federal and state level in subsidies and other programs to deal with problems in high cost areas where build out was not happening as quickly. So I think all those things together put the U.S. in a relatively good position.

Rob Atkinson: ITIF wrote a report recently where we talked about that, essentially what you said, was that this highlighted a lot of strengths where IT and networks have done very well, it highlighted a lot of opportunities or gaps. You talk about four in the paper and let’s go through each one, you’re talking about coverage, security, utilization, or adoption or use, then also information. Why don’t we talk about each one?

Jackie Whisman: You know, I also kind of want to interject that there are so many rural areas that are so difficult to service, that the residents just don’t have access. I know that there are many members of Congress from rural districts that are concerned about this. So when we talk about it, I’d also like to kind of think about, and talk about, why this just isn’t getting done quite yet?

Blair Levin: Well, Jackie, when we talk about coverage gaps, that’s one of the two things we’re talking about. The gaps are, A) places where there no networks capable of providing what we would consider to be a minimum service. One of the things I hope that comes out of this as it allows us to effectively analyze what should we now think of as a minimum service, that number has shifted over the last 10 years, we should take a fresh look at that number. But it’s absolutely true, and there’s a simple economic explanation. Rural areas are more expensive. You’re deploying big capital assets over bigger places, serving fewer customers, often demographically lower income customers. Well, that’s not a great business model.

So really since the beginning of AT&T, over a hundred years ago, the federal government has had a series of policies to subsidize the deployment into rural areas. The National Broadband Plan recommended changing the subsidy from subsidizing voice to subsidizing broadband. The FCC did that and is in the process of trying to entice people with subsidies to build out in those areas. But obviously, there’s still a lot to be done with that job, including getting better information because the current FCC maps are very misleading and the second coverage gap is adoption. This is actually three times larger in terms of the number of people who have access to a network, but for various reasons have chosen not to adopt. But I think the urgency of their adoption is obviously highlighted by what’s been going on.

Larry Downes: Yeah, and unfortunately that adoption problem has become very political and very hard to talk about in sort of a rational way. But we know that there are issues in terms of people not having the devices, not having the expertise even to turn on a wifi network, even if they had it, not having computer literacy. Really, it’s hard to imagine this now, but even as recently as a few months ago, just not seeing any real reason to use broadband, not using the Internet, not using these services.

I think after the crisis has faded, we’ll have some sort of new perspectives on that. But just giving everybody access and even giving it at a very discounted price still will not solve the problem, especially for this sort of last 10%. There’s much more intrinsic issues that we’d have to address, which are going to require more subtle responses, including sort of ones that are targeted specifically to seniors, or to urban residents, or to rural residents who may have different reasons in fact, who do have different reasons why they don’t adopt.

Rob Atkinson: So how much of this do you think is going to be addressed as we roll out 5G wireless systems, where, it may be that people end up adopting on a smartphone or a tablet and really using a 5G network. There are certainly, for low income people, a lot more people that have a smartphone with Internet access and are comfortable with that. Do you think that’s the path we might go down?

Blair Levin: I don’t, but I think this is a great debatable point. The economics of 5G, I think, are difficult to begin with, but they’re even more difficult in rural areas. I suppose it depends on what your definition of 5G is, in the T-Mobile-Sprint deal, T-Mobile promised to deliver 5G services to a lot of rural America. But when you look at the actual definition, it looks to me more like the speeds that we think about with 4G, not the kind of 5G speeds that they’re talking about in more urban places.

But having said that, I think there are other technologies including fixed wireless or including low Earth orbiting satellites. I also think that there’s the ability to get fiber to more places. We have seen, in a number of places, that you might think of as difficult, the rural electric co-ops, who have a lot of kinds of enterprise advantages, being able to successfully roll out fiber. So there’s definitely a path to finish the job and get everybody access to a network, but it’s a combination of things, not a single thing.

Rob Atkinson: Part of the whole problem with this debate is it’s so easy to confuse or conflate adoption versus deployment. I was kind of segueing into an adoption question Blair. So I agree with you on the 5G maybe, in some rural areas, is maybe not going to happen or not going to happen very quickly. But let’s just come back to the question of deployment in high cost areas. Right now, the only way that’s really going to happen is with some kind of subsidy. One of the debates that we have in here now that people are talking about this, is should we subsidize two carriers? We’ve long been of the opinion that we shouldn’t, that these are costly networks, they cost so much that you’re lucky to even get one good network in a rural area. But there’s been a few folks recently, I think Jonathan Sallet recently came out with a piece and he said, “We should have subsidized two networks in every area.” What are both of your thoughts on that?

Larry Downes: Well, I wish we had that kind of money to spend. I agree with Blair, I don’t see the point of that. We have issues of costs that are not going to go away. We do have these other technologies, and it may be that instead of two carriers, what we have is a situation where it becomes cost effective to have two different technologies. So maybe satellite/fixed wireless in some areas and where there are competitors who see the business case for doing both of those and who think that they can each serve enough customers to be profitable. Then I think it makes sense. But when you’re talking about CapEx, to do a double investment, it doesn’t make any sense at all.

Blair Levin: My view is, I wouldn’t close the door on anything, but I’d like to see the study that justifies it. Some of the arguments that I’ve heard is simply that if you have two carriers, you’re going to have more competition and you’re going to get lower price points and therefore it will be more affordable and that’s fine. But there’s an alternative, which is you subsidize one, you’re essentially guaranteeing them a very significant margin. But therefore, you price regulate them, as monopolies have traditionally been price regulated.

I think that we’re in a time where there’s a lot of technological innovation. There’s the Microsoft white spaces initiative. Again, there’s the low Earth orbiting satellites. Again, there’s fixed wireless and I could be wrong about 5G. I think it’ll be interesting to play it out, but for now, the first priority for dollars to me ... Actually the first priority for dollars and this, I may be a little bit contrarian, might be to subsidize people in urban America who are newly unemployed and are in danger of getting cut off. I think we’re in a kind of an emergency situation where we might want to focus in on that. But it would not be to have two carriers in rural America because my guess is that that would be rather expensive and not actually solving the problem.

Jackie Whisman: Do you think it’s reasonable to expect this addressed in the next stimulus package? Or are you thinking this is a more drawn out ordeal?

Blair Levin: Well, that raises the question, whether there’ll be a next stimulus package and both sides have articulated so many different red lines that I think will be difficult for the other side to cross. This package will be much more difficult than the first three. Having said that, there is, I think, a political consensus that did not exist 10 years ago, that is very wide and deep, that the government, the federal government should spend significantly more money to A) make sure there are networks everywhere, and B) make sure that everybody is on them.

How that translates into the next COVID related bill or a bill next year, that might be a bigger infrastructure bill, I do not know, but clearly it’s something that I think has to happen. I would just note in this regard, the current mechanism for funding universal service efforts, the contribution factor, that is a cancer on the system. It depends on a revenue base that is shrinking rapidly, and therefore, the percentage of tax on that base has to keep going up, and that is not sustainable.

Rob Atkinson: Blair or Larry, just on that point. I mean that to me, besides just needing reform for the whole way we fund universal service or pay for it, if we were to do some kind of stimulus or infrastructure package where we paid for CapEx, some sort of a onetime capital investment fund, out of general revenues, that would certainly reduce some of the pressure on the Universal Service Fund. Wouldn’t you think that would be the case?

Blair Levin: Yes.

Rob Atkinson: So let me shift over then to the adoption question, which, Larry, you alluded to with the fact, I think, that a lot of people now lost their job and hopefully they can get unemployment insurance, although boy oh boy, when you look at the state of e-government unemployment insurance websites, it is pitiful. We did a report on that recently, about a week and a half ago, and the number of unemployment insurance websites that aren’t even mobile friendly, it’s astounding. 20% of people, that’s the only way they get on the Internet. But having said that, do you think that there needs to be some kind of emergency action, broadband stamps, or vouchers, or something like that, for people who’ve lost their jobs and make sure that they can quickly go to their carrier and get some kind of easily redeemable voucher?

Larry Downes: Well, I don’t know if it needs to be separated from any other kind of assistance. So if the theory is that during an emergency, you have unemployment, you have Medicare, you have various programs, and the theory is that covers the various expenses that you have. Obviously, we know it really doesn’t, but if you’re starting to saying, “Well, maybe we need like something like food stamps, which is a separate thing,” just for food, as opposed to a broadband, I think we just need to see how quickly the economy bounces back, how bad the recovery might be, how long it might take, if there is kind of persistent unemployment, then it’s an interesting question. But for now I think it’s just too soon to say.

Blair Levin: Well, I would just note, very early on in the crisis, the FCC and the carriers agreed to what’s called the Keep America Connected initiative, in which the carriers agreed not to cut anybody off who hadn’t paid their bills. This was supposed to last 60 days and it was just extended for another 120 days, and various people have suggested it should be extended even further. Basically what the government is doing, and I’m not disagreeing with it, I’m just saying, as a practical matter, the government is saying to the companies, “You have to bear the risk of the bad debt.” Then they’re saying to customers, “If you don’t have money, you don’t have to spend it here for now.”

But at some point in time, that initiative will end. The question is, will the economic crisis be over then? And what happens to the accumulated debt? As I look at the numbers, I don’t think we’re getting out of the economic devastation anytime soon. I certainly do not see a V recovery. I certainly disagree with Jared Kushner who said, “We’re going to be back to normal in June and the economy will be rocking in July.” If that’s the case, I don’t think we need to do much. But if we see this very persistent unemployment, it could be that there is some kind of short term broadband voucher that doesn’t put all the costs on the carriers, has the government essentially subsidizing in a different way than it currently does with Lifeline, that’s more efficient, but is designed for this period, this economic period because I do think it’s really important for education, for doing jobs, for job training, for access to government services, for all kinds of other things. We really need to keep everybody on.

Rob Atkinson: You know, a couple of days ago we had a big wind storm here, Blair, I live right near you, so you know what I’m talking about, and my broadband went down. It went down, I think, on our street. I got to tell you, it was first time I’ve ever really realized that it’s more important to me than electricity or plumbing. I mean, I was like, “What am I going to do for 24 hours of not having broadband?” Luckily they-

Jackie Whisman: Be happy you don’t have a four year old at home who needs an iPad.

Rob Atkinson: That would be even worse. I have a 13 year old who has a laptop,

Jackie Whisman: [crosstalk 00:00:21:19].

Rob Atkinson: But they’ve got restored and all. So to your point, broadband, certainly, and Internet access and all the applications, Larry, you talk about are much more important. So the political question on this, and then maybe quickly come back before we close on the two other issues we haven’t talked about, and that’s information and security.

I may be being cynical here, but it seems like we’ve spent the last five to eight years in Washington, when it comes to broadband policy, one side in their trench fighting on, “We should regulate net neutrality,” the other side saying, “We shouldn’t regulate it.” That costs political capital, that takes people’s energy and time.

We could have been spending that... I argue we could have been spending that time focusing on rural broadband, we could have been spending it on adoption for low income individuals, better applications. You think this is going to be ... maybe people will come back together a little bit after this and come around a common agenda in those two areas?

Blair Levin: Well, I’m hopeful of that. I think that if you set out an agenda of, “Do we need to get networks everywhere? Do we need to get everyone on them? Do we need to utilize the networks better to deliver public goods and services like education and healthcare?” I think you see a wide consensus that the answer to all three questions is yes. It would be great to see that ... regardless of whatever happens in the election, it would be great to see that agenda move forward. I think that’s possible, but it requires a certain kind of political leadership that, frankly, is different than the political leadership that we’ve seen, which is much more divisive.

I hate to have a piece on how we need to be unified by criticizing someone, but there’s a commissioner at the FCC who basically gave a speech in which he said, “The reason we don’t have broadband in rural America is because of greedy mayors on the coast who are charging all this money for access to rights of way.” Well, you can have a different opinions on what the rights of cities should be, but that is not why we don’t have broadband in rural America. We don’t have it for the simple economic reason and anyone who’s ever taken an economics course would know this, that you have a high capital cost spread among fewer people. It’s that kind of divisive politics that I think has made it more difficult to see the common agenda, but hopefully now people are seeing that and we can move forward.

Jackie Whisman: Can we talk about security and information a little bit? We spent a lot of time on coverage and utilization, but I want to make sure we get to those two points because they’re important too.

Larry Downes: Yeah, actually, we didn’t really talk about the utilization one though, that’s, to me, the most important one, which is this idea that there were so many industries that turned out not to be ready to go digital when the time came and those include obviously government services, healthcare, education, utilities, and so on. There’s a lot of things that those industries have in common. I mean, they either have very high cost of entry, high cost of exit, or in many cases they’re very heavily regulated. What you see is when you have industries like that, they don’t have a lot of incentives to invest in new technology and they don’t invest in new technology. Those gaps are has become painfully obvious now.

So what we would like to see too, is that the lack of incentive, or the disincentives for industries that haven’t done the investing in basic digital technology, we’re not talking about AI here, we’re talking about online access to basic services that they offer their customers. We need to figure out ways to get around the disincentives that those industries have because they turn out to be some very critical ones, including financial services, look at the disaster of the SBA loan program. You had the big banks who couldn’t do it because they had no digital capability and you had the fintechs who were ready to do it, but weren’t allowed because they weren’t licensed by the SBA to be participating.

Rob Atkinson: Larry, as you said, a lot of industries and a lot of firms in industries that just haven’t really moved forward digitally. I think governments, really, maybe the worst case of that, not just at the federal level, but state and local. One of the big questions as you know, is, should the federal government do anything to help states and local governments, in general, or even with digital technologies? What are your thoughts on that? Should there be a federal role to help states and local governments modernize through technology?

Larry Downes: I mean, it may not be command and control, but certainly setting best practices, putting in sort of innovation funds that encourage states and local governments to do experiments and then take the experiments that work and try to syndicate them elsewhere. We’ve seen a lot of that in the last 10 years. Certainly, like for example, what the Department of Transportation has been doing with autonomous vehicles, what the FTC did with robocalls, where you set up programs that give small amounts of grants or small amounts of prize money to the most interesting innovations, and then you promote the hell out of the ones that does seem to work the best.

Blair Levin: I agree. I think that challenge grants a great idea, just like there was a race to the top in education, that not only rewarded a few states, but also caused all the states to organize differently to improve education. Rob earlier you mentioned the horrible scenes of people trying to apply for unemployment insurance, I was hoping that 10 years after The National Broadband Plan, no one would ever fill out a piece of paper again, no one would ever stand in line, and no one would ever have to make a phone call and that everything could be done online in terms of one’s relationship with the government. I would like to see the federal government engage in that kind of race to the top for the delivery of government services by state and local government.

Rob Atkinson: That would be a great thing. We’ll hopefully, maybe it’ll happen soon.

Blair Levin: Yeah.

Jackie Whisman: I’m going to lighten the mood a little bit and ask one final question that both of you can answer. What do you think is the technology you are most excited about for the future? Blair first.

Blair Levin: Well as perhaps befitting an American Studies major who went to law school, when I think of the technology I’m most excited about it’s human creativity. It’s actually not a technology per se. One of the interesting things, when we were doing The National Broadband Plan, the network was not capable of doing a lot of things we knew would happen eventually in terms of virtual reality or augmented reality, or just basic streaming of video. Well now the networks are capable, and in fact, in some ways they’re under underutilized. Ironically, last fall, The Wall Street Journal ran a story saying, “Most Americans are buying way too much bandwidth.” I don’t think that’s true in the era of COVID, but it was true, it was great that for the first time the networks could adapt to our creativity.

And where I think, and this goes to the utilization gap, the biggest digital divide that we’ll look back on 10 years from now, and we’ll say, “What was the biggest digital divide 2020?” It actually, and I don’t mean to minimize the rural divide because that’s really important, I don’t mean to minimize the adoption divide, but the biggest divide is the divide between what we were doing on the networks and what we could have been because 10 years from now we will be delivering healthcare much better. If there’s a pandemic, we will have contract tracing much better and we’re going to deliver online education much better, but we need the human creativity to do that now, not so much the technology.

Larry Downes: Yeah. I would say, I mean, it’s not as visible as some of the exciting technologies you see, the consumer electronics or anything. But I started by talking about how cloud services and apps and software-as-a-service had been so important in the ability to do this pivot. The next version of that, I think, is what’s known as edge computing where even more of the processing moves out to virtual devices and servers and things where the network figures out where there’s capacity, where there’s an inefficient use of computing resources, whether that’s communication or actual number crunching and rebalancess the load dynamically on a microsecond basis.

That’s just sort of the next step of this networkization of computing, which I’ve been watching for decades going from sort of the mainframe now down to cloud-based. I think that developments in edge are very exciting. There’s a lot of money being invested in it and it’s going to make it much more efficient and much more possible to deliver all these new services that we’ve now decided are urgent, and hopefully after the crisis, we’ll continue to think are urgent.

Jackie Whisman: Well, thank you. I wish we had more time. I feel like we could go on for a while, but could you let our listeners know where they can find you on Twitter, LinkedIn, your favorite social media?

Larry Downes: Well, I’m everywhere. I’m on Twitter. I’m @larrydownes and on the web at larrydownes.com, you just have to know there’s an E in my last name.

Blair Levin: I actually don’t use much social media. I am @blairlevin, but I will say despite my great belief that technology can improve our lives, I find that when I do Twitter my mind gets ... I can’t think of the deep, profound ideas I’d prefer to think about, and I start thinking about ... I don’t know, 140 characters, and I do think that-

Jackie Whisman: Well, you’re missing out on all the fights that Rob gets himself in on Twitter.

Blair Levin: I know, and I think that perhaps I wanted to avoid those fights. Not that I like to avoid fights, I actually find it stimulating, but I do think that the important policy questions, I think Rob would agree with me, actually require a lot of analysis, and they’re not simply stated, and they don’t fit simple partisan narratives. I think we have to kind of step away from that. But I do admit that I enjoy Twitter, I just don’t do it much.

Rob Atkinson: Blair and Larry, I just want to thank you so much, super insightful, super interesting, as it always is. I always enjoy listening and talking with you both. I learned a lot.

Jackie Whisman: And thanks for listening. If you liked it, please be sure to rate us wherever you get your podcasts. You should also go to itif.org, where you can check out our show notes and sign up for our weekly email newsletter. You can follow us on Twitter, @ITIFdc, and we’re on Facebook and LinkedIn. So our presence makes up for Blair’s lack of presence.

Rob Atkinson: So that’s it for now. We have more episodes coming. We have great discussion coming up actually soon on e-government and what we need to be doing, and also on how IT and technology is going to affect the quote isolation economy and that’s going to evolve going forward. So please come back.

Twitter Image: 
Podcast: What the COVID Crisis Teaches Us About Broadband Policy, With Special Guests Larry Downes and Blair Levin