Communications network traffic is up as Americans’ use patterns change during the coronavirus pandemic. Broadband providers, carriers and trade associations spoke about the communications volume and use shift with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Wednesday.
Providers told him network use had risen about 20-35 percent for fixed networks and 10-20 percent for cellular networks in recent weeks, with increased demand in suburban, exurban, and residential areas during daytime hours. In general, company representatives reported their networks are holding up well, and they expected that resilience to continue, according to the agency. This is consistent with what the Chairman heard during a similar call led by the President on Tuesday.
The network resiliency is due “in part to networks being designed to handle ever-higher peak traffic loads, and in part to a market-based regulatory framework that has promoted infrastructure investment and deployment,” said Pai. He added the Commission will continue to monitor the situation. So too, will the telecoms. They’re especially focused on hotspots to be ready for any issues and proactively increase capacity in case peak traffic rises unexpectedly.
Pai thanked “communications workers who are on the front lines for their efforts in helping Americans get connected, stay connected, and troubleshoot any problems during these challenging times.” He also gave kudos to companies for finding ways to meet changing demand and working with the FCC to keep Americans connected.
Companies have seen some spikes in new customers signing up for services and an increased reliance on phone calls—with some calling traditional voice service the “new killer app,” according to the agency.
Pai thanked trade associations for reporting helpful, nationwide data on their websites and thanked carriers for providing the data. This includes:
The Chairman’s call with trade associations included ACA Connects, Cloud Communications Alliance, Competitive Carriers Association, CTIA—The Wireless Association, INCOMPAS, NCTA—The Internet & Television Association, NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association, Rural Wireless Association, Satellite Industry Association, Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, and Western Telecommunications Alliance.
Companies on the call included Altice USA, AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter, Cincinnati Bell, Consolidated Communications, Comcast, Cox, DISH, Frontier, Hughes, Mediacom, Northwest Fiber, Sprint, T-Mobile, TDS Telecom, TracFone, U.S. Cellular, Verizon, ViaSat, and Windstream.
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