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USTelecom to Hill: We're Prepared to Handle Coronavirus Load

USTelecom has told Congress that its members are "laser focused" on making sure their networks can handle the prolonged reliance on telework, distance learning and other forms of high-band, remote communications--like telehealth--and even as more of that bandwidth is used for video and content streaming during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

Members of Congress from both Houses have reached out to cable and telecom ISPs seeking status reports. 

Related: Senators Seek Info on ISP's Coronavirus Readiness 

The association, which represents the major telecom broadband providers, told Congressional leaders in a letter that as of Friday, in areas where large numbers of workers have been sent home, it had not observed any traffic that exceeded network capacity, not has it gotten reports of "material" congestion or latency issues. 

It points out that is despite the fact that over 60% of network throughout is now taken up by video and content streaming. "While these data flows continue to increase year-over-year," it said, "at peak hours our networks have sufficient capacity to provide customers with necessary bandwidth."  

USTelecom said it is monitoring "around the clock" to assess the networks' tolerance of what it calls, with some understatement, "the internet’s changing business, education and social uses." 

USTelecom was one of many associations and companies to sign FCC chairman Ajit Pai's connectivity pledge

The association said its members have been relaying operational and performance information to Department of Homeland Security, FEMA and state safety agencies and that "providers also have in place specific procedures and protocols to ensure first responder communications are prioritized and can transit the networks in the event of an emergency." 

“This is an evolving and unprecedented situation for our country and global community, but every company we represent is committed to the principles of network preparedness and resiliency – in good times and bad," USTelecom told the legislators. "Broadband is the 21st century’s indispensable resource, never more so than in an environment where COVID-19 is reshaping the way we interact with our families, colleagues and fellow citizens.”

John Eggerton
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.