• Comcast’s Broadband Network Supports Usage Spikes

    Yesterday Comcast shared select network data on how significant changes in consumer behavior have been due to virus-driven stay at home guidelines. Comcast said that since March 1st, peak traffic is up 32% overall, and 60% in some geographies. Peak or “primetime” for downstream traffic has shifted from 9pm to 7pm-8pm and peak time for upstream traffic has changed from 9pm to between 8am-6pm (no doubt reflecting the widespread use of two-way videoconferencing apps, which Comcast said is up 212%).

    Comcast noted spikes in specific types of video viewing: streaming (up 38%), VOD (up 25%) and gaming downloads (up 50%). Even linear TV appears to be increasing (up 6% or 4 hours per week, to 64 hours per week). No doubt reflecting our stationary lives, Comcast said that LTE mobile data usage was down 10% while WiFi mobile data usage was up 24% since March 1st. Comcast said that its network is “performing well” and that it is running over 700K speed tests most days.

    On a personal note, our house is a Comcast Xfinity broadband subscriber and I don’t believe we’ve had any serious hiccups at all. As with many other households, we have increased streaming (both VOD and linear), videoconferencing, online learning and web browsing. But I haven’t noticed any changes - whether it’s the time to play start for Netflix streams or video quality in a Zoom call. Comcast said it is benefiting from its “ongoing, proactive network investment to add fiber and capacity” and from one subscriber’s standpoint, that definitely seems to be the case.

    Broadband Internet has long been thought of as a “utility” - an essential part of our daily lives, like electricity or plumbing. It’s only in these times when the networks are put under unusual stress that we see how robust these utility services really are, and what levels of spare capacity are really in place. As a Comcast subscriber, it’s been impressive to experience.