Pai's Network Poll: ISPs Holding Up 'Very Well'

FCC chairman Ajit Pai likes what he is hearing from ISPs and their trade associations about their ability to handle the additional broadband load during the COVID-19 pandemic's shelter-in-place mandates.  

He said Thursday (April 2) that he had spoken to broadband and phone companies, who said network usage was up by about a third for fixed networks and 10%-20% for cellular networks in the past few weeks. Not surprisingly, they said there was increased demand during daytime hours. 

He said the gist of the status report was they were handling the traffic and expected to be able to continue to do so. 

He divvied up the credit for that performance between the industry and FCC. 

"It appears that our nation’s communications networks are holding up very well amid the increase in traffic and change in usage patterns," he said in a statement on the calls. "That’s thanks in part to networks being designed to handle ever-higher peak traffic loads and in part to a market-based regulatory framework that has promoted infrastructure investment and deployment." 

He thanked the companies for meeting changing demand in a demanding time of change and working with the FCC to keep the country connected. He said that no provider expressed concern that they would not be able to handle the load. 

He also gave a shout out to communications workers on the front lines "for their efforts in helping Americans get connected, stay connected, and troubleshoot any problems during these challenging times.” 

On Pai's call with trade associations were ACA Connects, Cloud Communications Alliance, Competitive Carriers Association, CTIA—The Wireless Association, INCOMPAS, NCTA—The Internet & Television Association, NTCA—The Rural Broadband Association, Rural Wireless Association, Satellite Industry Association, Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, and Western Telecommunications Alliance. 

He also talked to Altice USA, AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter, Cincinnati Bell, Consolidated Communications, Comcast, Cox, DISH, Frontier, Hughes, Mediacom, Northwest Fiber, Sprint, T-Mobile, TDS Telecom, TracFone, U.S. Cellular, Verizon, ViaSat, and Windstream.

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.