As COVID-19 keeps more people at home and on the web, many cities report a decline in broadband speed. Of the 200 metropolitan areas with the highest usage, Broadband Now noted that users in 88 markets experienced “some degree of network degradation over the past week compared to the 10 weeks prior.” Ars Technica reported that of those 88 cities, 27 saw speed reductions of at least 20 percent.
The speeds were compared to average speeds in the ten weeks prior to the outbreak. Even in regions like New York City, which has experienced a drop of 24 percent, with median download speeds down to 51.93 Mbps, internet speed was still adequate to run streaming services. “Users in most of the cities we analyzed should be experiencing normal network conditions,” stated Broadband Now,” suggesting that ISPs (and their networks) are holding up to the shifting demand.”
One of the ways providers are keeping up with the greater usage demands is to reduce the video streaming quality. In Europe, for example, YouTube and Netflix both made adjustments to accommodate the extra traffic. Noting the success of the speed reduction, YouTube instituted 720 worldwide. Other companies have adopted similar measures, finding ways to keep people and their digital media connected.
Analyzing the current situation, network analysis vendor ThousandEyes determined that overall, people were able to access digital services with very little reduction in quality. “Despite massive traffic increases, particularly across consumer last-mile networks, we have not seen a significant corresponding spike in internet outages,” the company noted, “which can occur when traffic levels strain network capacity.”
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