Broadband Speeds Largely Holding Firm Across US, But These Cities Faced A 40 Percent COVID-19 Drop

work from home
If you’re one of the millions of Americans stuck at home right now due to COVID-19/coronavirus, some of you may have noticed that your broadband speeds have taken a hit in the past few weeks. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that an influx of workers “telecommuting” instead of working from the office, and children accessing educational materials from the computers at home would put a strain on broadband networks. Throw in an massive increase in online gaming, and you can see why some networks might be stressed.

Well, the folks over at BroadbandNow have posted their Internet Speed Analysis for 200 top cities in the United States for March 15th through March 21st. The results are quite an eye-opener into how far-reaching the effects of the coronavirus have spread. Looking at the overall picture, the majority of the 200 cities analyzed did not experience any meaningful drops in broadband speeds during the time period studied. However, 44 percent did experience “some degree of network degradation over the past week compared to the 10 weeks prior.”

broadband percentage drop

There were, however, 26 cities that experienced dips in broadband speeds of 20 percent or more. And that’s not all, there were three cities in particular that saw their speeds crater by greater than 40 percent. Those cities were: 

  • Austin, Texas – 44 percent drop
  • Winston-Salem, North Carolina – 42 percent drop
  • Oxnard, California – 41 percent drop 

While many cities that have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus outbreak -- including San Francisco and Los Angeles – New York City took a 24 percent tumble in broadband speeds (to a median of 52 Mbps) during the measured time period. 

Unfortunately, there’s not much that you can do on your end to improve connection speeds if you’re in a hard-hit area like Austin or Winston-Salem. However, internet service providers (ISPs) are doing their best to address the increased strain on their networks and minimize outages as they face unprecedented demand. Companies like Microsoft and Sony are also doing their part by throttling select services to help minimize the impact of an influx of customer demand.

With that being said, the fact that the majority of cities around the country are doing just fine with this crushing increase in demand is poking quite a few holes into the notion that ISPs need data caps to keep “data hogs” in line.


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