Software Development
COVID-19 / Internet

More streaming, gaming and Zooming: How Comcast customers used the internet last month

People across the country are downloading 50% more video games, for one.

Comcast. (Jeff Fusco/AP Images for Comcast)

As a surprise to absolutely no one, during the month of March, as cities across the U.S. shifted to living their lives entirely at home during the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis, we used a lot more internet.

Broadcast and internet giant Comcast, which manages internet services across 39 states, collected data last month about how and when it was being used during the pandemic.

“We are seeing an unprecedented shift in network usage, but it’s within the capability of our network; and we continue to deliver the speeds and support the capacity our customers need while they’re working, learning, and connecting from home,” Comcast said of the report.

When you’re stuck at home, it’s essential to have working internet to stay connected to jobs and other people.

“It’s absolutely critical for every person to be online when there’s no other option to connect with people,” Katie Jordan, Internet Society’s Graduate Hospital-based senior policy manager, told us this week.

What Comcast’s data show is that as people are forced to stay at home, they’re streaming movies and TV more, playing more video games and are accessing the internet at different times than before the pandemic. Comcast’s “primetime” of internet usage has shifted, the company found, and since March 1, some areas of the country have seen as much as a 60% increase in internet usage, with an average of 32% increase overall.

And when they’re using a bulk of the internet has also changed. Before March, internet use was concentrated during the evening, but now the company said it’s seeing peak times as early as 8 a.m. and extending through the evening.

Tony Werner, president of technology and product at Comcast, said through a spokesperson that a likely guess is that usage has moved up as people are now eschewing long commutes or after-school and work activities and therefore starting their entertainment consumption earlier.

Higher traffic that initially peaked in first-affected cities like Seattle and San Francisco has started to plateau, the company found. And as more people are staying at home, there’s been a 24% increase of mobile data going through a Wi-Fi network instead of LTE.

Use of virtual business tools applications are also predictably up, after many face-to-face interactions at work have been forced to go digital. Use of Comcast’s business phone solution, VoIP, and other video conferencing tools has gone up 212% — that’s a lot of virtual meetings, family chats and happy hours.

The company also saw a 50% increase in gaming downloads, a 38% increase in entertainment streaming and a nearly 50% increase in Voice Remote requests for “free movies.”

So, yeah. That’s a lot of internet.

Comcast is doing about 700,000 speed checks per day and while internet usage has definitely increased, it’s within the company’s capacity, according to Werner.

“While the COVID-19 experience is new and unprecedented, the internet ecosystem is flexible and performing the way it was designed,” the company said.

Continue to stream away, friends.

Companies: Comcast
Series: Coronavirus

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