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4 Internet Providers to Rally Amid Coronavirus Crisis

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It has been three months since the coronavirus outbreak was first reported in Wuhan. In this time, the virus has engulfed 210 countries worldwide and infected nearly 1.8 million people. With fatalities rising, even busiest streets remain deserted as people stay at home to curb the spread of the virus.

However, this enforced self-isolation has provided a significant boost to remote working, schooling, socializing and entertainment needs, which in turn is directly driving Internet traffic. This surge in Internet usage by individuals has made the wireless and broadband providers a safer investment option, when other sectors have been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Telecom Facilitates Remote Working

Following the imposition of quarantine and lockdown, several companies have asked employees to work from home, while schools and universities have been conducting online classes so that students stay in touch with academics. Hence, office meetings are now happening on Zoom, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams, while school assignments are being handed over in Google Classroom. However, all this requires one thing —a steady Internet connection.

Carrier operators are trying to provide uninterrupted connection to help employees to work and students to study from home. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in mid-March announced an initiative —the “Keep Americans Connected” pledge. This pledge compels service providers to not only help mitigate issues with regard to work-from-home movement but also bars them from terminating service in case of payment failures.

Comcast Corp, AT&T and Verizon Communications have taken pledge not to terminate services to subscribers for the upcoming two months, in case they are unable to pay their bills owing to the coronavirus-induced crisis. Along with that many telecom operators have also suspended data caps for some broadband Internet customers to allow them to work at ease. AT&T has also offered internet data plan to many limited-income households for as low as $10 a month.

Other players like Charter Communications is also offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access to houses with K-12 or college students who do not have a subscription and need to take online classes during the lockdown.

Staying Indoors Boost Online Activities

With the lockdown forcing people to stay indoors, many have resorted to social media, online streaming services and gaming as modes of entertainment and socializing. In recent years, advancement of smart phones has persuaded people to ditch computers and laptops, and instead access social media, tweet and stream series in these hand-held devices.

However, with people spending more time at home and computers close at hand, people are switching back to the big screens. Per SimilarWeb and Apptopia’s latest report, website versions of Facebook, Netflix and YouTube have witnessed growth in number of users, while their phone apps have seen no to low growth.

Additionally, along with the growth of traditional social media sites, few applications that were relatively unknown have come to limelight. For instance Google’s Duo, a video chatting application and Houseparty, which allows friends and family groups to join a single video chat and play games together.

4 Stocks to Buy

Given the steep increase in demand for internet services, telecommunication companies could gain further as coronavirus brings about a new era of a remote working and schooling. Hence, we have shortlisted four wireless service providers that may return well on investment.

PLDT Inc. PHI operates as a telecommunications company in the Philippines. PLDT Home has rolled out free speed boost until Apr 30 to highly affected areas. The company has also improved its network by expanding the caching capacity of its data centers. This, in turn, will help avoid network overload and accommodate data traffic for Google, Facebook and Netflix, which are being heavily used during lockdowns.

The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 14.9% compared with the Zacks Wireless Non-US industry’s projected earnings growth of 5.4%. PLDT sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Cogent Communications Holdings, Inc. CCOI provides high-speed Internet access, private network, and data center collocation space services. The company has recently reported spike in traffic from banks, retailers, and technology companies in the United States to their remote employees.

The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 36.8% compared with the Zacks Wireless National industry’s projected earnings growth of 7.9%. Cogent Communications carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

GCI Liberty, Inc. GLIBA offers data, wireless, video, voice, and managed services to residential customers, businesses, governmental entities, and educational and medical institutions. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the next quarter is 64.4% compared with the Zacks Wireless National industry’s projected earnings growth of 39.8%. GCI Liberty carries a Zacks Rank #2.

T-Mobile US, Inc. (TMUS - Free Report) provides wireless services for branded postpaid and prepaid, and wholesale customers. In the coronavirus crisis, T-mobile has launched two of its most affordable plans so far, costing $15/month. The plan offers unlimited talk and text, and 2GB of data. The company has also teamed up with YouTube to offer two months of free YouTube Premium.  The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 12.4% compared with the Zacks Wireless National industry’s projected earnings growth of 7.9%. T-Mobile US carries a Zacks Rank #2.

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