NCTA Launches Broadband Network Performance Dashboard

NCTA-The Internet & Television Association has launched a COVID-19 internet dashboard.

In a blog post, NCTA president Michael Powell called it a tool to let the public and policymakers track the growth of traffic during the pandemic and a weekly update on how cable broadband operators are meeting that challenge.

"COVID-19 presents an unparalleled threat to Americans. To combat the danger, millions of Americans are practicing social distancing and relying on the internet to stay connected and productive like never before," he wrote. "Broadband networks are making distance learning possible, ensuring businesses can continue serving customers, connecting patients and doctors through telehealth applications, and much more as we all do our part to stop the spread of COVID-19."

FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel was suggesting Tuesday (March 31) the FCC should start keeping track of network performance so it would know of any issues or gaps that might need filling. At the same FCC meeting Tuesday, commissioner Brendan Carr said from the data he had seen from carriers, and publicized himself via a Medium post, they seemed to be handling the load.

Powell said it was understandable that the public and policymakers would be seeking answers to how networks were holding up, which the tool would help answer.

He said it would provide a "dependable depiction" for how cable broadband nets are faring, both upstream and downstream, according to week-to-week peak usage comparisons.

Powell pointed out that other factors than network performance could affect the end-user experience, including aging WiFi routers, overcrowded WiFi bands--NCTA is always advocating for freeing up more WiFi spectrum--and "bring broadband speeds to a halt."

He also pointed to possible slowdowns "bandwidth-hog" security cameras or non-time sensitive software updates during peak times.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.