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Industry Update: Flu-wary telecommuters may clog Web networks

February 15

Flu-wary telecommuters may clog Web networks

As the spread of the H1N1 flu keeps more Americans away from work and school, a federal report warns that all those people logging on to the Web from home could overwhelm Internet networks. The Government Accountability Office reported earlier this week that if the flu reaches a pandemic, a surge in telecommuting and children accessing video files and games at home could bog down local networks. And if that were to happen, it is not clear whether the federal government is prepared to deal with the problem, the GAO said. The Department of Homeland Security is in charge of communications networks during times of national emergency. But it doesn't have a strategy to deal with overloaded Internet networks — an essential resource to keep the economy humming, and residents informed and connected during a pandemic. Furthermore, the DHS hasn't coordinated with agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission to create guidelines for how telecom, cable and satellite providers can minimize congestion.

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