If you are looking for ways to keep your mind fresh, Axios will be hosting a live virtual event on how the private sector can contribute to social good in the midst of a global pandemic. Join us Friday, April 3, at 12:30pm ET live for this in-depth discussion featuring Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, and Edelman U.S. CEO Richard Edelman.
Today's Login will hopefully also help to keep your mind agile, but it's only 1,384 words, a 5-minute read.
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios
To the list of coronavirus-caused shortages we may need to add WiFi hotspots, devices that use cellular signals to create local networks, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill reports.
Why it matters: Demand is outpacing supply of the normally niche product, now a hot commodity for schools and libraries looking to bring online learning to students who lack internet access at home.
Where it stands: There are probably fewer than half a million hotspots available from the major carriers in the U.S., and the Asia-based supply chains that could replenish that stock continue to face coronavirus-linked disruptions, said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperhighway, a nonprofit that works with schools to increase broadband access.
Of note: Even some small orders of hotspots that predate the crisis are going unfilled.
The best short-term solution might be to rely on secondhand or refurbished smartphones that could be used as hotspot devices, said wireless industry consultant Chetan Sharma.
Be smart: Most smartphones today can act as hotspots too, which is one reason inventory of the standalone devices was limited to begin with.
Yes, but: Even low-end smartphones like the $75 models the 1Million Project provides are more expensive than hotspots, which can run as little as $45, said project president Doug Michelman.
Meanwhile: The issue comes as lawmakers debate spending federal funds on hotspots for students in need as part of broader coronavirus stimulus efforts.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
T-Mobile and Sprint have closed their merger, the newly combined companies announced today.
Why it matters: The deal — initiated nearly two years ago — brings together the nation's No. 3 and No. 4 wireless carriers under the T-Mobile name. Critics have said that the combination will reduce competition, even with concessions the companies made to win Justice Department approval.
Details: The combined entity will use the T-Mobile name and trade under the TMUS ticker. T-Mobile shares were up modestly as markets opened Wednesday.
Background: The largest obstacles were removed when T-Mobile reached a deal with the Justice Department and a federal court blocked a legal challenge from a number of states. The companies said in the wake of the court ruling that they aimed to close the deal as soon as April 1.
Of note: A number of banks that had agreed to provide $23 billion in financing (with hopes of offloading some of the risk as debt to investors) are now fully on the hook amid changes in the markets due to the coronavirus.
Apple has acquired popular weather app Dark Sky. It is shutting down the Android version of the program and also plans to end support for third-party developers at the end of next year.
Why it matters: Apple may be able to use the deal to enhance its basic weather app for more iPhone users. However, Android users relied on it too, as did third-party software that relies on Dark Sky's API.
Streaming video has shot up dramatically in the U.S. over the past month, as more people turn to their screens for comfort during the coronavirus pandemic, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.
Why it matters: The pandemic has changed user behavior to promote more binge-watching, a habit that's likely to stay after the crisis concludes.
According to Hulu, binge viewing — that is, watching three or more episodes in the same session — has grown more than 25% over the past two weeks vs. the two weeks prior.
Details: Netflix had the biggest share of streaming minutes during the last week of March with 29%, followed by YouTube at 20%, Hulu at 10% and Amazon at 9%.
By the numbers: Netflix had 9 of the top 10 most-streamed pieces of programming from March 9–15, per Nielsen, including "Spenser Confidential" followed by "The Office" in the top two spots.
What to watch: Streaming has especially spiked with older viewers.
Yes, today is April Fools' Day, but this year it's decidedly the wrong moment for online pranks — even though tech companies have reveled in them for several years now.
The big picture: The genre was getting a bit tired even before the pandemic — and many things that might be funny in ordinary times simply aren't funny right now.
What's happening: Perennial pranksters Google and T-Mobile promised to forgo the jokes this year and many, many people have expressed the fervent hope that others will follow suit.
Still, it's probably best to treat online posts you encounter with extra skepticism. That said, it's good to do that every day. So maybe read Twitter every day as if it was April Fools' Day.
Yes, but: Today is the right day for me to say "Happy Anniversary" to my partner AJ. We've been together for 21 years (married for a couple years less than that). There's no one I'd rather be forced to shelter in place with for an indeterminate period.
Now this is how you rise to the shelter-in-place challenge with awesomeness.