NCTA — The Internet & Television Association

COVID-19: How Cable's Internet Networks Are Performing

network pattern
COVID-19: How Cable's Internet Networks Are Performing

METRICS, TRENDS & OBSERVATIONS

Over 72 million homes and businesses across America subscribe to broadband delivered by cable providers. With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, these connections are more important than ever, including home Wi-Fi networks, as our nation adapts to the realities of “social distancing” and many of our daily activities have moved online.

To help meet these challenges, network providers are working around the clock to maintain robust service and ensure that consumers stay connected. Engineers and technicians continuously monitor demands placed on the networks. And when isolated issues arise, network providers have processes and tools in place to ensure that they are addressed quickly. The good news is that these broadband networks are performing well in the face of COVID-19, despite significant surges in online activity.

To better explain how changing consumer demand is affecting network usage and performance, NCTA members and other providers are joining together to report key metrics during the pandemic (reported below) that will better inform the public regarding usage trends and network performance. The industry has also made available tips for maximizing the performance of home Wi-Fi networks. Companies currently reporting include: Altice, CableOne, Charter, Comcast, Cox, GCI, Mediacom, Midco and Sjoberg's.

Key Takeaways

While national downstream peak traffic has declined recently, early weeks of the pandemic showed downstream peak traffic growing 20.1%. Overall, since March 1, national downstream peak growth is up 9.1%.
National upstream peak growth has also declined recently, but earlier in the spring saw a surge of 35.1% growth. Overall, since March 1, national upstream peak growth is up 22.1%.
Throughout the pandemic, provider backbone networks have showed no signs of congestion.
Wi-Fi data traffic and Wi-Fi calling increased as cable broadband networks continue to support the offload of mobile data traffic.

Peak Traffic Growth

Networks are engineered to provide superior performance throughout the day, so measuring demand during times of peak usage is useful in making sure that consumers experience robust connections when traffic is heavy as well as when traffic is light. The data below reflects observed increases by NCTA member companies and others – both upstream and downstream – during the highest points of network utilization. The metrics compare the current week’s peak data increase to the peak data increase experienced before COVID-19 took hold on March 1.

Covid-19: How Cable's Internet Networks Are Performing

Select your state to display network information.
Downstream Growth (% of usage)
15 %
Overall
Since 3/1
20 %
Weekly
7/11 - 7/18
Upstream Growth (% of usage)
23 %
Overall
Since 3/1
30 %
Weekly
7/11 - 7/18
Network Performance (% of network)
88%
Normal Peak Usage
20%
Elevated Peak Usage
10%
Substantially Elevated Peak Usage
0%
Significantly Elevated Peak Usage
Internet Service Providers
NH
VT
MA
RI
CT
NJ
DE
MD
DC
Notes
Normal Peak Usage: Access network at peak hour showing excess capacity available; no material impact on customer experience.
Elevated Peak Usage: Access network at peak hour showing ample capacity available; no material impact on customer experience.
Substantially Elevated Peak Usage: Access network at peak hour showing reduced capacity available; minor impact on performance and customer experience possible during peak.
Significantly Elevated Peak Usage: Access network at peak hour showing significantly elevated usage; some customers may be temporarily affected during peak, including reduced speeds.
Sources
Data from NCTA Member Companies and Others

Responding to the
COVID-19 Pandemic

Cable Industry Efforts to Help Consumers Manage the COVID-19 Crisis

As the U.S. responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cable industry is committed to ensuring that Americans will remain connected during this unprecedented crisis. Cable internet service providers are intensely focused on providing superior network performance and constantly evaluating how networks will handle the increased demand.

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