Almost all employees in the U.S. who were forced to work remotely after the pandemic outbreak last year are connecting to their job on their own dime, according to a study.

Just 1 percent of those surveyed by AppNeta in its “Future of the Internet Outlook” study said their employer pays for their internet charges, even though 38 percent felt their organization should cover the expense. The computer software company surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. adults in 2021.

Of those who felt their employer should pay for their internet connection, 40 percent felt their employer should pay for the full cost, 26 percent believed employers should pay some of the bill and 34 percent said there should be a routine stipend to cover costs, the poll found.

An average cost of internet connectivity ranges from $60 per month to $100 per month in rural areas, according to AllConnect, a home-services provider company.

Internet as a public utility?

A large majority (65 percent) of employees agreed that if the internet became a public utility, “it would be a positive step toward a better-connected society,” AppNeta said in the report. More than a quarter of respondents said global internet coverage would be valued the most, followed by faster connectivity and free wi-fi.

Rural areas still remain underserved when it comes to internet connectivity. About a quarter of Americans living in rural areas lack access to high-speed broadband, according to data from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.

“It remains the case that ‘many people, particularly rural and Tribal areas, do not enjoy the fastest possible broadband speeds or even access to advanced telecommunications services,’” the agency said in an April 2020 report, citing comments from the nonprofit Internet Innovation Alliance.

In fact, slow broadband access remains an issue for many remote workers, the AppNeta poll found. Thirty-four percent of workers reported video calls freezing, which led to 37 percent having to routinely turn off video to improve audio quality.

In addition, 33 percent experienced service outages and 23 percent had to move to an alternate location (coffeeshops, a neighbor’s home) to work, the survey showed. Poor connectivity also forced 20 percent of remote workers to upgrade their internet plan and 28 percent had to update their equipment.

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