Verizon and NCTA: Network usage settles in during COVID-19 pandemic

While network traffic overall is still up versus pre-COVID-19 metrics, network traffic is starting to settle in, according to data from Verizon and cable's NCTA. (NCTA)

It seems as though most of the large service providers have weathered the crazy increases in network traffic due to the COVID-19 outbreak over the past month and half. While network traffic is still up over pre-COVID levels, the mad scramble to get millions of users set up to work or study from home may have reached its high water mark across the U.S.

Verizon reported this week that its overall data volume increased by 19% when compared to pre-COVID-19 levels. While data usage is still at elevated levels, Verizon said the changes in how its subscribers are using its network have stabilized. Peak web traffic usage week-over-week increased by 2% for Verizon and by 30% compared to a typical day before the onslaught of the coronavirus.

RELATED: Verizon sees almost 20% increase in web traffic in one week due to COVID-19

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On the same week-over-week timeframe, peak usage for downloads was actually down by 8% but still up by 56% when compared to pre-COVID-19 metrics. On a weekly basis, video peak usage was actually flat but up 26% overall.

Gaming was actually down by 1% week-over-week, but up 71% compared to peak usage on a typical day. VPN peak usage week-to-week increased by 5%, which was inline with previous increases before the coronavirus.

“We believe all trends point to sustained network usage at this higher level for the foreseeable future,” said Verizon CTO Kyle Malady, in a statement. “As customers’ traffic and usage patterns have changed, we have continued to deliver the level of service our customers have come to expect. More importantly, we’ve stepped up our efforts to help people return to business as usual as best they can.”

Source: Verizon

Over on the cable side of the equation, the NCTA said in its weekly update that national peak bandwidth growth—both downstream and upstream—has hit a plateau. As the coronavirus hots pots spark up and then decline across the U.S. NCTA noted that there would still be variations in peak demand increases, along with decreases, from week to week in some states and regions.

NCTA's internet dashboard found that national downstream peak growth declined slight over the past three weeks. Downstream peak growth is down 2.2% from March 28 through April 4. Overall, since March 1 national downstream peak growth increased by close to 18%.

On the other side of broadband usage, national upstream peak growth has remained relatively level over the past two weeks with an increase of 1% each week since the start of April. Since March 1 national upstream peak growth has increased by 35%.

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