The trade association representing large cable companies has developed the NCTA COVID-19 dashboard, which uses data submitted by large cable operators to track network activity during the pandemic. Major cable operators provide the majority of broadband connections in the U.S., connecting 72 million households and business locations, NCTA-The Internet and Television Association reports.
The pandemic has heightened the importance of reliable broadband. Millions of workers and students are now working and studying at home, taxing broadband access networks. The new NCTA COVID-19 dashboard currently aggregates network performance data from Charter, Comcast, Cox, GCI, Midco, and Vyve. Other operators will be added, says NCTA.
The dashboard provides national level data, as well as drills down on a state-by-state basis. Data from the dashboard currently focuses on peak traffic usage, measuring both downstream and upstream traffic loads.
According to the data, downstream bandwidth traffic has increased by 20.1% since March 1st, and 4.3% during the week of March 21st through March 28th. Upstream traffic during the same periods has increased by 27.7% and 7.3%, respectively.
Close to 96% of the network is experiencing normal peak usage, defined by NCTA as “Access network at peak hour showing excess capacity available; no material impact on customer experience.” Less than 1% of the network is experiencing substantial or significantly elevated peak usage.
According to the association, NCTA COVID-19 dashboard key takeaways as of today are:
- Both upstream and downstream peak usage is up, but networks continue to perform well
- Provider backbone networks have significant capacity and show no signs of congestion
- Upstream peak hours in many regions have shifted from late evening towards afternoon
- Downstream peak hours are still primarily during the evening
“Typically, the peak period occurs in the evening when people are streaming entertainment; however, with so many now working and learning from home, some areas are seeing much more use earlier in the day,” said NCTA CEO Michael Powell in a blog post. “Regardless of how peak hours may shift, cable broadband networks continue to offer robust performance and cable ISPs are working hard to ensure that the network continues to perform well even with these changes in patterns and increases in usage.”
Separately Comcast reported a 32% increase in peak traffic and a 24% increase in mobile data use over WiFi on Xfinity Mobile. Comcast also says VoIP and videoconferencing is up 212% on their network. OpenVault, a broadband operator analytics and network management firm, also recently reported that average subscriber bandwidth usage was up 41% during business hours.