Broadband traffic is returning to pre-COVID patterns, according to Comcast. For example, the company says that in 2021, peak downstream network traffic increased approximately 11% and peak upstream traffic increased approximately 5% compared to 2020 levels, reversing a trend seen in 2020, when peak downstream traffic rose 38% and upstream traffic grew 56%.
In addition, peak usage times shifted to the evening toward the end of 2021, according to the Comcast 2021 Network Report. Overall, traffic growth was not as dramatic as in 2020.
“Over the past two years, our network has been a powerful and reliable pillar for our customers as they’ve navigated dramatic changes in how we live, learn, play and work,” Charlie Herrin, Comcast Cable’s President of Technology, Product, Experience said in a press release. about the COVID broadband traffic patterns. “The outstanding performance of the network throughout this time is a testament to our commitment to strategic investment, unceasing innovation, and the incredible talent and dedication of our technology teams across the country.”
Other highlights from the report:
- Traffic patterns remained highly asymmetrical. Peak downstream traffic grew 2 times faster than upstream traffic.
- Network asymmetry increased throughout the year, with total downstream traffic volumes 12.4 times higher than upstream for the first six months of the year and 14.5 times higher for the last six months.
- Daily peak times shifted toward pre-pandemic norms throughout the year. Peak upstream traffic times were 10 AM in January, 3 PM in June and 10 PM in December.
- Streaming, web browsing, and gaming saw the largest increases in network consumption with 10% to 20% increases.
- Entertainment activities dominated peak network traffic. Video streaming accounted for 71% of downstream traffic (same as 2020).
- Other activities that contributed to peak downstream traffic include online gaming and web browsing. Both increased their share of network usage by 1% over 2020 levels.
- Videoconferencing as a share of peak network traffic decreased slightly in 2021, remaining less than 5%.
- Comcast increased speeds for its most popular Xfinity speed tiers in 2021, including increasing gig speeds to 1.2 Gbps.
- In 2021 Comcast invested more than $4.2 billion to expand the network. That is more than in any previous year.
Last month, the Comcast 2021 Wi-Fi Trends Report reported a 12-fold increase in devices connected to Wi-Fi since 2018. Smartphones are the most commonly connected device.