COVID-19 has sent everyone home and with that means millions more are on the internet, day and night, around the world. Seattle, one of America’s s hardest-hit cities, saw a 30% spike in internet usage during the outbreak from January to March. U.S. internet service providers are noticing huge influxes of new internet traffic – mostly in WiFi calling, online gaming, and VPN usage. Even with all this extra usage, more is still coming. Telecom companies know this and are stepping up their game – 70 telecom companies have signed the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected pledge. This pledge is helping Americans stay connected by waiving late fees and not cutting service for lack of payment. Comcast is opening public hotspots for free use, and along with Spectrum, they are both offering 2 free months to low-income families.
Along with providing less expensive or free service, governments and companies alike are taking steps to make sure we can handle all this new use. The FCC granted Verizon and AT&T temporary access to unused spectrum to expand broadband access for consumers. YouTube, Netflix, and Amazon have all limited streaming quality in the E.U. to standard definition for at least 30 days – many want this policy to be applied to the U.S. as well. AT&T is also giving first responders in a number of U.S. states portable cellular sites to boost data coverage.
Despite all the actions being taken to keep the internet stable, it may not be enough as residential internet has its limits – and those limits are already being pushed. During peak hours in normal circumstances, some internet service providers weren’t stable. That combined with millions of students at home, and millions more working from home and we may be in trouble. Find out what you can do to stay connected with the best connection you can here: