Report Praises Internet Network Performance During COVID Pandemic

The Internet is holding up well during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite significant increases in utilization and changes in use patterns, according to an Internet COVID performance report from the Broadband Internet Technology Advisory Group (BITAG).

The 2020 Pandemic Network Performance report says that the sudden shifts of work and school to the home caused an “unprecedented” spike in demand. The broad Internet – from user application to content distribution to all types of access networks – proved reliable in the face of traffic increases as high as 30% to 40% in both directions at peak times.

The success of the Internet as a whole, the press release says, “is likely due to a combination of the nature of the design of the Internet itself, open and interoperable standards, competent technical execution and operational execution, network capacity upgrades during the pandemic, and significant long-term investments across the entire Internet ecosystem.”

Isolated problems did occur, but the report says that user needs were met in terms of generally avoiding “slow page loads, excessive video buffering, video conferencing sessions aborting” and other problems.

Report highlights:

  • ISPs saw significant growth in both downstream and upstream traffic, increasing at least 30% and as much as 40% during peak business hours and as much as 60% in some markets.
  • The observed increase in traffic volume was not simply a consequence of a shift from organizational networks to residential ones. The shift caused local information resources on organizational sites to become remote ones, accessible only through the Internet. Therefore, net Internet traffic increased.
  • Enterprise and campus networks saw an increase in the use of VPN services, leading in some cases to VPN capacity problems.
  • Transit networks, content delivery networks, and Internet exchange points saw traffic volumes increase by 20-50%.
  • Some providers saw modest and temporary decreases in downstream traffic speeds, especially during earlier parts of 2020. Overall median download speeds decreased by less than 5%, while remaining above advertised speeds. Latency also increased modestly and temporarily for certain providers.
  • Home WiFi networks, in particular those with customer supplied home gateways and/or WiFi access points, experienced performance challenges, especially if the networks had a large number of connected devices.


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