Skip to main content

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

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The folks over at 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:

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.

Niels Broekhuijsen

Niels Broekhuijsen is a Contributing Writer for Tom's Hardware US. He reviews cases, water cooling and pc builds.