Now is the time we appreciate our home broadband infrastructure. Although put in place primarily for evening Internet usage, it is now working overtime to provide additional daytime enterprise, school, and gaming use. Let’s talk a little bit about what we are seeing in these extraordinary past few months.

During the week of March 12-18, 2020, over 90 percent of Ookla’s speedtests occurred on fixed broadband networks. In the cable service provider industry, where our immediate team works, traffic normally increases at an anticipated 30-50 percent rate per year, and the Hybrid Fiber Coaxial (HFC) plant is upgraded over the year to match that rate. Budgets and manpower are planned accordingly. An entire year’s worth of growth just happened in two weeks. Cable operators overall are seeing a 40 percent increase in cable traffic, a more than 70 percent jump in places like Italy, and an astonishing 90 percent in the United Kingdom. Also, consider that even more may come as the rest of the world locks down.

The good news is that cable plants are holding up well. They were designed for a peak load at night with video streaming, gaming, and other Internet activities mostly centered on home entertainment. Now that peak load has shifted to all day, with video conference for the adults working at home, along with online education and increased gaming from the kids staying at home too. Netflix, YouTube, and other streaming providers reduced their bit rates by 25 percent to make room for other traffic.

The NCTA, the Internet and Television Association, President Michael Powell recently launched a dashboard that monitors home broadband. Cable industry operators such as Cox and other ISPs eliminated Internet bandwidth caps and introduced new low-income Internet tiers. Comcast published their traffic increase, with President Tony Werner publicly stating their network is holding up fine.

AT&T has seen a 700 percent increase in its Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) connections as well. We’ve seen the average number of daily remote connections from its employees worldwide increase 700 percent, rising from 20-30,000 connections per day to more than 170,000.

Cloud-based applications see increased usage as well. Cisco WebEx traffic grew 2.5 times in the Americas and four times in Europe, with up to 240,000 new users signing in over just one hour. WebEx traffic from China is up 2,200%(6), with more than 73 million meetings in March and more than 324 million active attendees. That’s two times as much as we typically handle on a high-traffic day. We’re at 14.3 billion meeting minutes tracked through the end of March.

I am proud of the work our entire team of Internet Service Providers and their vendors have done in building a robust Internet. It is one of the most essential technical marvels holding the world together during this difficult time, and I want to say a big thank you.

I would like to collect some stories below from our visitors on the amazing things happening in the world of home broadband. What have you seen? Please share it with us!

For more information on Cisco Cable Solutions and how we can help your cable broadband network, please go to www.cisco.com/go/cable


John Chapman

Cisco CTO Broadband & Fellow

Cisco’s Cable Access Unit