Could Swine Flu Take the Internet Down?

If the H1N1 swine-flu pandemic arrives this fall, one thing that may break under the strain is the Internet. Emergency planners say that school-age children and telecommuting adults could be accessing the network simultaneously, potentially overloading the public Internet’s capacity.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates absenteeism during a pandemic could peak at 50 percent during a six-week period. Many businesses have created emergency plans that assume that absent employees will be able to work from home. It’s not clear, however, that the Internet will behave in a crisis the way it does during typical days.

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