Like many big organizations, Comcast Corp. is taking precautions to halt the spread of H1N1 flu. For one, it has distributed bottles of hand sanitizer to employees reports The Chicago Tribune.
But Comcast, the nation's largest residential Internet provider, with 14 million high-speed subscribers, may have a bigger problem if the flu leads to rampant absenteeism by students and workers. All those people may be online at home simultaneously, a recent government report warned, causing an Internet meltdown.
Homebound workers and ailing children could overload the Internet with video game downloads, Web surfing, online shopping and Webcast viewing. Neighborhood telecommunication nodes that act as traffic cops for the Internet could be overwhelmed with data.
A Government Accountability Office report released late last month said the Internet could slow dramatically if worker absenteeism reached 40 percent -- a reasonable speculation for a severe flu outbreak.
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