Most US Cities Faring Well Under Increased Internet Strain, but Pandemic’s Effects are Showing

Online movie stream with mobile device. Man watching film on tablet with imaginary video player service.An analysis of internet activity in 200 US cities suggests internet service providers are so far coping well with the increased network demands brought on by the coronavirus outbreak and its effects. Still, BroadbandNow reports that some locations may be feeling the effects more than others.

In all, the group took a look at 200 cities and found that 88 demonstrated some level of network degradation compared to 10 weeks earlier, with 24 (13 percent) experiencing drops in download speeds of 20 percent or more.

“Though many cities … have experienced some degree of degradation in terms of median download speed, the vast majority of them are still well within speeds that can support crucial remote work and learning tasks,” the report stated.

With more people working from home, often incorporating video conferencing into their routine, and many households streaming content at night, there’s increased attention being placed on internet stability. In response to the outbreak, many broadband providers and telcos have also started offering discounts and free trial periods for internet access, potentially adding more stress to the network. Still, the nationwide outlook seems promising so far, though BroadbandNow did point out several locations, including rural areas had poor download speeds even before the current outbreak.

Of course, the coronavirus situation, and our actions in response to it, will continue to evolve over time. In Europe, for example, a number of video streaming providers, including Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, and Disney+, have already announced reductions in video quality to ease network congestion. In addition, YouTube announced its videos will default to standard definition (480p) worldwide. Meanwhile, Netflix said it’s also open to adjusting quality and video bitrate beyond Europe as the needs arise.

We’ll continue to update as companies announce new measures as the current situation continues.

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