Report: US broadband resilient in pandemic

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Covid-19 has forced the residents of many nations to shelter-in-place, either by choice or by mandate. As a result, Internet use has skyrocketed, putting stress on both fixed and mobile broadband networks. In a study released by the Phoenix Center, Chief Economist Dr. George S. Ford looks for the impacts of rising Internet use on download speeds for fixed and mobile networks across the globe.

Using weekly speed data for fixed and mobile networks from Ookla before and after the Covid-19 pandemic, Ford finds some sizable reductions in speed for several countries, but also some increases in speed. Larger negative effects appear more often for lower-income countries with slower networks, with a few exceptions. Some higher income countries, including France, have seen statistically-significant drops in download speeds for both fixed and mobile networks.

For the US, Ford’s results were particularly encouraging. Ford found that fixed networks in the US were resilient to the traffic surges; there were no statistically-significant changes in download speeds. Mobile networks in the US, alternately, were found to have a statistically-significant increase in download speeds.

“While we see some statistically-significant reductions in broadband speeds in many counties, the changes often are not very large,” explains Ford. “Importantly, US networks proved resilient to the rise in Internet traffic as Americans weathered the Covid storm.”


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