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Coronavirus Roundup: SiFi Networks Scores $450 Million, Universal Broadband in California Town, COVID-Negative Certifications

Elijah Labby

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Photo of the Salinas Valley by Brendel used with permission

Investments of up to $450 million will help to bring high-speed fiber connectivity to millions across the country, said fiber company SiFi Networks.

The company announced Tuesday that it had recently secured the funding and will use it to expand infrastructure and hire specialists in several new cities, as well as deploy SiFi Networks’ FiberCity technology.

FiberCity is an international effort to develop fiber networks that will accommodate next-generation technologies and host multiple internet service providers on an open access network.

SiFi Networks received the funds from the Smart City Infrastructure Fund, capital provided by APG, a pension fund organization in the Netherlands.

Small Town Hopes for Universal Broadband Across California 

A small town in California’s Salinas Valley has achieved universal broadband for all of its residents, and many are hopeful that it will be a model to cities across the state.

The city of Gonzales has about 9,000 residents and its success proves that broadband can be not just universal but high-speed as well, reported the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday.

The city’s government partnered with T-Mobile in October to upgrade infrastructure. T-Mobile donated a Wi-Fi hotspot for each Gonzales household — about 2,000 hotspots in total.

A special sales tax, approved in 2014, funds the effort, which cost the Gonzales government about $300,000.

The deal with T-Mobile expires in two years, but city officials are already planning to renew the agreement and develop 5G technologies in the area.

TPI Fellow Argues for Coronavirus-Negative Certification

A certification of virus-free status is necessary to reopen the economy, said Thomas M. Lenard, a senior fellow at the Technology Policy Institute.

Lenard said that the toll of a largely closed economy is too significant, and that it is necessary to create a system whereby individuals immune to or free of coronavirus are identified and cleared to return to work.

“Although only a small percentage of the population is infectious at any time, no one knows who they are,” he said. “People, therefore, assume anyone they come in contact with might be infectious and are consequently afraid to go to work, eat in restaurants, enjoy sporting events in person, travel, and so on.”

Lenard said that contact tracing apps identify the infected, and thus do not incentivize the infected to download them. He suggested adding a Coronavirus-free certification to these apps that would identify users who are considered safe until a certain amount of time has expired and they get retested.

However, such an effort would require testing several million citizens per week, which would be costly and logistically challenging.

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