December 09, 2020 Feature

III. Communications

Christian F. Binnig

A. Introduction

“May you live in interesting times” is an old saying that seems especially apt for the time period covered by this report—roughly May 1, 2019, through April 30, 2020. This time period will be remembered chiefly for what occurred at its tail end: the spread among humans throughout the world of the highly communicable COVID-19 disease. The disease’s appearance was first reported in late 2019 in the area of Wuhan, China, and quickly grew into a global pandemic. The initial economic and social impact of the pandemic was swift, resulting in a barrage of government-issued “lockdown,” “shelter-at-home,” and other “social distancing” orders directed at people in most areas of the United States and the world, and severely disrupting and curbing activity in many sectors of the United States’ and other nations’ economies. Throughout the world, people turned to their communications networks to engage in economic and social activities virtually, often through the use of Internet-streamed video services. Zoom Video Communications, a U.S.–based provider of Internet-streamed videoconferencing services, saw its stock price almost quadruple between February 1 and June 30, 2020.

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