Network management refers to the activities, methods, procedures, and tools that pertain to the operation, administration, maintenance, and provisioning of networked systems.
The spike in network traffic is starting to flatten with subscribers settling into their work from home (WFH) routines. Comcast's residential broadband traffic increases were starting to plateau in most of its markets, including in cities such as San Francisco and Seattle that were among the first to implement stay-at-home measures.
Driven in part by video conferencing, broadband usage spiked to a record high on Easter Sunday (April 12), according to data from OpenVault. Easter Sunday downstream consumption hit 16.3 GB per subscriber, which marked an increase of almost 16% over the previous Sunday (14.1 GB) and of 37.9% over March 1 (11.8 GB), the latter of which was before COVID-19 social distancing measures started to take effect. OpenVault said upstream usage per subscriber on Easter Sunday was 0.97 GB, up 18.6% over the previous Sunday upstream high of 0.81 GB on April 5 and 51.7% over the 0.64 GB on March 1.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s emergence and exponential spread has highlighted the mission-critical nature of residential networks. Home networks are now lifelines, connecting us to colleagues, customers, co-workers, patients and investors, not to mention friends, family and entertainment. Many more people would be unemployed or be contributing less to the economy if not for this connectivity. Data shows that demand for downlink bandwidth in areas affected by the pandemic have risen on average by 30% and uplink bandwidths by 50%-100%.
According to the DC Circuit’s logic, the Federal Communications Commission’s jurisdiction over broadband Internet access services now resides in some sort of regulatory purgatory.
Local broadband speeds may be impaired by upload speed. "That upstream is really where we’re in trouble,” said Gary Bolton, the vice president of global marketing at ADTRAN, referring to unprecedented demand for needing to upload content to the internet, mainly the webcam and audio data you need to broadcast to participate in a Zoom meeting. Bolton predicted that this crunch on upstream will lead to an explosion for demand for broadband buildout.
For the past three weeks, our team has been tracking internet performance in hundreds of American cities amid the coronavirus pandemic. Last week, we expanded our analysis to include rural America, as well as adding in data on upload speeds, which have been central to the discussion around working (and learning) from home. Key findings:
As residents shelter in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the surge in demand that internet providers would expect to see gradually over the course of an entire year has instead hit in a matter of weeks. How are these crucial networks faring, and will they be able to keep handling this kind of a load? The answer is complicated and even more so the longer the pandemic persists. But so far — as anyone fortunate enough to be able to work remotely and stream Netflix can attest — things seem to be going OK.
In addition to the increase in traffic, sheltering in place strains the internet in two more ways. First, last-mile connections—the ones that run from local exchanges or data centers to your home—are typically the weakest links in a network. Many run over outdated cables. When broadband was rolled out in the US, for example, it often piggybacked on cables originally installed for TV. These cables were designed to pipe data into a home and not out of it, which is why uploading video from a home internet connection can be flaky.
Verizon is canceling many home-Internet installations and repairs during the pandemic, and some customers are being given appointment dates in Nov when they try to schedule an installation. The Nov appointment dates appear to be placeholders that will eventually be replaced by earlier dates. But Verizon is sending mixed messages to customers about when appointments will actually happen and about whether technicians are allowed to enter their homes.
In the United States prior to coronavirus, total home internet traffic averaged about 15% on weekdays. But it started growing in mid March, and by late March it had reached about 35%, clearly connected to all the working and learning from home due to stay-at-home orders. This doubling of work-from-home traffic mirrors the events in China. But it’s too soon to tell if home traffic in the United States will increase permanently even after the crisis has passed. “The data suggests remote working will remain elevated in the U.S. for a prolonged period of time,” wrote analysts at Cowen.