With the outbreak of COVID-19, nearly two-thirds of the world is now at home as governments the world over are taking steps to slow the progression of the disease. With everyone home, the internet is now under heavier stress than ever. In the U.S. internet usage is at record-breaking highs. Seattle, one of the U.S.’s hardest hit cities, internet traffic spiked since January – by March internet traffic in the area had risen by 30%. This kind of spike is normally only seen during the Olympics. WiFi-calling has increased by 88%, online gaming has increased by 75%, and VPN usage has increased by 30%. In March, AT&T reported a new record in Netflix streaming – so much so that consumers across Europe and the U.S. experienced outages lasting as long as an hour. This increased usage is going to keep rising – companies know this and are compensating to help consumers in many ways.
Comcast and Spectrum are offering 2 months of free access for low-income families. Comcast is also opening public hotspots for free use – many use customers’ rented WiFi routers to provide the connection. Governments are also stepping up to the plate to help out. In March, the FCC granted AT&T and Verizon temporary access to unused spectrum to expand broadband access – AT&T began setting up portable cellular sites for first responders in a number of U.S. states, including New York, New Jersey, and California. In the E.U., many streaming services such as Amazon, YouTube, and Netflix are all limiting streaming to standard definition for 30 days – many want this policy to be introduced to the U.S. to make up for struggling internet speeds.
Find out what is being done to keep the internet going and tips to stay connected even during this time of heavy usage. Will coronavirus break the internet? See more below: