COVID-19 network traffic levels ease up for Verizon and Comcast

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Comcast and Verizon continue to see shifts in network usage during the coronavirus pandemic, but increases are starting to plateau in some areas. (Pixabay)

While network usage is still above pre-COVID-19 levels, the increases are starting to calm down a bit, according to Comcast and Verizon. In a Wednesday report, Comcast said it was starting to see network traffic plateau in most places, including early work from home markets such as Seattle and California.

For Comcast, which has the biggest residential internet network in the U.S., there has been a 33% increase in upstream traffic since March 1 while downstream traffic is up by 13%. As more people work from home, they're connecting to their work VPNs. Comcast said VPN traffic was holding steady at 39% in Wednesday's report while VoIP and video have increased by 283% since March 1.

RELATED: Comcast stays ahead of the COVID-19 traffic curve

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Comcast also noted that downstream peak usage time for its network is now starting between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. instead of the previous start of 9 p.m. Comcast said the upstream peak was moving from 9 p.m. to between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. in most cities.
 
After reaching 50% last month, gaming downloads were up 35% generally and 80% during new release time frames. Comcast has also seen a 35% increase in streaming and web video consumption over the same time frame.

Verizon sees a drop off in some areas

In Wednesday's Verizon Network Report, the telco reported that some categories of usage were starting to decline, with a few even dropping significantly below COVID-19 peak levels. Downloads were down 5% week over week, and have fallen 55% from COVID peak levels. Gaming dropped 10% week over week, and down 45% since its peak during the coronavirus pandemic.

Like Comcast, work from home is driving new application usage growth for Verizon. Use of Verizon's collaboration tools and VPN usage have increased by 4% from last week to this week, but are up by a whopping 1194% when compared to a typical pre-COVID day.

VPN usage was up 3% week over week, which Verizon said was an indication that working from home, distance learning and virtual gatherings were still trending up in popularity.

Streaming usage increased 4% week over week and was up 37% when compared to a typical non-COVID-19 day.

As some states start to ease back on stay-at-home restrictions, Verizon said that mobile hand-offs were starting to return to pre-COVID levels in some areas, including the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. On the other hand, the areas hardest hit by coronavirus pandemic, including upstate New York, metro New York and New England, are seeing major declines in mobile hand-offs.

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