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Connection Congestion: Broadband Speeds Suffering, Some Cities Down 40 Percent or More

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The folks over at broadbandnow.com have completed their research for the impact of the Coronavirus on web activity and found that of the top 200 cities in the U.S., 88 (44%) are suffering from reduced download speeds due to increased web activity.

For the testing, the firm measured broadband speeds over the week of March 15 - March 21, comparing the figures to the speeds 10 weeks earlier before the COVID-19 outbreak.

The three worst offenders are Austin TX, with a 44% hit, Oxnard CA, at 42%, and Winston Salem NC with a 41% decrease in download speeds. 

New York City is witnessing a 24 percent drop in download speeds.

(Image credit: Broadbandnow.com)

What is Causing the Dips?

With the majority of folks stuck at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for web data has increased exponentially over the last two weeks. Many people are working from home, taking classes from home, or unable to go to work and quarantined at home. The result is that home broadband connections are seeing a severe uptake in demand to meet users' needs, with the networks under high strain to keep up.

Meanwhile, Netflix and other content providers are cutting image quality during peak hours in order to ensure that data connections don't end up congested, allowing those that work from home to continue to do their jobs as effectively as possible -- after all, they're a big factor that's keeping the economy above water.

Various ISPs around the U.S. have lifted data caps temporarily, and are expanding free access for low-income customers where possible. The first of these was AT&T, who set an example for the industry to follow.

  • hotaru251
    USA a great place? debatable.
    USA a world power? yes.
    USA have good internet? so funny.


    at this point i'd pay gov if they'd provide actual plans/speeds liek the other developed nations have...

    literally sh*t options and they gouge you for mediocre speeds (and caps)
    Reply
  • mdd1963
    Okinawa's fiber service (thru AU) has/delivers roughly 650 Mbps downloads/810 Mbps uploads , and, still great gaming ping times (mid-30 ms range) so, I am currently happy during these otherwise 'trying times'!
    Reply
  • boltguitar
    If you click through to the study, the actual first bullet point is, "Users in most of the cities we analyzed should be experiencing normal network conditions, suggesting that ISP’s (and their networks) are holding up to the shifting demand." But the Tom's headline is, "Connection Congestion: Broadband Speeds Suffering, Some Cities Down 40 Percent or More?" Great reporting, there.

    And labeling the ISPs hardest hit by pandemic-related surges as "offenders?" Are hospitals running out of beds also "offenders?" This article is disgusting, and the author should be ashamed.
    Reply
  • alceryes
    hotaru251 said:
    USA a great place? debatable.
    USA a world power? yes.
    USA have good internet? so funny.


    at this point i'd pay gov if they'd provide actual plans/speeds liek the other developed nations have...

    literally sh*t options and they gouge you for mediocre speeds (and caps)

    It's not all bad.
    The problem is that, due to the government's 'hands off' approach (because, America), the ISPs are allowed to run themselves almost like a monopoly.

    Do many middle-class families get gouged because there's only one ISP available? Definitely!
    Are there great deals to be had elsewhere? Definitely!
    Will it change? Not anytime soon.

    I think the ones that get gouged the most are the rural Americans who only have one choice for internet. They end up getting locked into a $70+ contract for crappy 2-3Mbps internet. I'm in a city and get 200Mbps for under $55.

    I agree with you that the government needs to do SOMETHING for those rural, middle-class Americans. I'm just not sure what.
    Reply