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Residential Internet Usage Surges 98% Amid COVID-19-related Social Distancing

(Image credit: Andrew Brookes/Getty Images)

As Americans move encase to conduct their work, schooling and overall social interaction at home via the internet, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, residential broadband usage is soaring.

OpenVault, which offers data, insights and consulting to broadband service providers, said that average downstream residential data usage for urban dwellers reached 5.16 gigabytes on Tuesday, March 10, the day after dire warnings from the Centers for Disease Control, the World Health Organization and other health authorities inspired many companies to issue work-from-home edicts and many school districts to shut down. 

Average downstream usage for urban dwellers on Monday, March 16, also clocked in around 5.1 GB, more than double the amount of average data consumed nine weeks earlier, on Monday January 20. Monday’s average downstream usage was 98% higher than the most recent baseline Monday, March 9, a day when the stock market endured a record plunge and seemed to accelerate concern about the spread of coronavirus in the U.S. 

Average upstream usage surged to 0.326 GB Monday, OpenVault said, up 68% over Monday March 16. 

The figures are based on "hundreds of thousands" of high-speed internet subscribers in the U.S., OpenVault said. 

Also read: Streaming Video Usage to Spike 61% Amid Social Distancing: Nielsen

The increased internet traffic from remote office work and schooling only adds to increased traffic generation by entertainment applications as Americans stay at home, with Nielsen projecting a 61% increase in U.S. video streaming usage. 

Operators of wireline broadband networks are responding confidently to questions as to whether their infrastructures can handle the increased load.

“We recognize that more of our customers will be working remotely or taking classes online," Verizon said in a statement. “Verizon’s networks are designed and built to meet future demand and are ready should demand increase or usage patterns change significantly.”

Meanwhile, in a letter to leaders of the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee, Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO fo US Telecom, wrote, “Broadband providers are laser focused on making sure the innovative networks they built and manage are ready to accommodate a prolonged reliance on telework, distance learning and other forms of high bandwidth remote communications."