Tracking Cable's Broadband Performance During the Pandemic


Broadband networks were put to the test like never before when they experienced a surge in internet traffic during state stay-at-home orders this past spring, especially during March and April. But fortunately, cable ISPs are constantly upgrading their networks and staying ahead of consumer demand to provide Americans with a robust and reliable connectivity experience, no matter the time of day or how many people or devices are online. So in order to be as transparent as possible about the ability of ISPs to handle this kind of internet usage surge, NCTA began tracking the performance of broadband networks since early March.

The early weeks of the pandemic showed downstream traffic growing at more than 20% and upstream traffic growing at more than 35%. But the performance data showed little signs of congestion during this peak demand period, thanks to the industry's billions of dollars of investment and years of upgrades on the networks.

Though traffic has leveled off since this peak period, NCTA continues to monitor and report on performance every few weeks through the COVID-19 Dashboard. For each update, major cable ISPs report their traffic information and network performance, and the dashboard tool provides a snapshot of this latest data on a state-by-state as well as national basis. 

Four key takeaways from this week and overall network performance during the pandemic include:

  • Downstream growth is up 7.2% this week largely due to a new gaming download, and up 17.4% since March 1.
  • Upstream growth is up 0.9% this week, and up 25.6% since March 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.
downstream growthupstream growth

The dashboard data reveals that broadband networks are running at full capacity and prepared for the inevitable – even a global health crisis that sends everybody home and straight to their smart devices. As the U.S., along with the rest of the world, remains caught in the pandemic for the foreseeable future, cable ISPs continue to deliver services to Americans working from home and students who are distance learning, while constantly upgrading and enhancing the networks to ensure a smooth and seamless connectivity experience as possible.  

Continue to check the COVID-19 Dashboard tool for future updates on how broadband networks are performing as the pandemic evolves.