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East Coasters Homebound by Sandy Binged on Broadband -- If They Could

With Hurricane Sandy about to tear into the East Coast on Monday, Oct. 29, schools were suspended and people stayed away from the office. And with nothing else to do, they drove up Internet traffic to more than twice its usual levels in some places.

Internet usage in one East Coast city from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 29 was 114% that of a typical Monday in October, according to bandwidth-management firm Sandvine. Sandvine's Dan Deeth, writing in a blog, didn't identify the city, likely to conceal which cable and telco providers Sandvine works with, but said it was "directly in Sandy’s path."

Of course, once the devastating storm blew through, many cable and telco customers lost service and/or power.

According to the FCC data, up to 25% cable subscribers were without service on Tuesday, Oct. 30, while that fell to "well under" 20% by the following morning.

According to Sandvine, no single application was responsible for the surge it identified for Oct. 29. As a percentage of total usage, patterns were for the most part similar usual weekday evenings, Deeth said.

However, Netflix traffic volume increased more than 150% during the same 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. period, and the Internet streaming company confirmed that usage more than doubled in Sandy-smacked cities like New York, Philadelphia and D.C.

Surely TV viewing in the affected areas also was above normal (Weather Channel reported its highest viewership numbers for 2012 on Monday) -- again, among those who had power and service.

Meanwhile, Internet communications applications on Oct. 29 also increased, with a spike occurring at around 5 p.m., according Sandvine, with Skype usage up 122% versus normal levels.

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