As the world marks one year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cable industry also takes a look back at its response and broadband network performance as more and more of our lives went online by necessity
The bottom line? Networks stood up to increased demand, cable companies connected even more families to broadband without government assistance, and the federal government passed assistance programs designed to increase broadband access. While these advances were in response to the pandemic, they’ll have long-lasting impacts.
A look back at just a few of cable’s pandemic milestones of note over the past year:
- Cable broadband providers have risen to the challenge of the new online world. They have expanded and enhanced existing low-income broadband programs and launched new programs to connect new qualifying customers. Cable providers connected more than 5 million U.S. families to the internet in 2020.
- At the start of the pandemic, cable companies signed the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge to keep consumers connected while most states were enforcing stay-at-home orders. In September, the cable industry launched the “K-12 Bridge to Broadband” initiative to help increase home connectivity solutions for students, as many schools adapted to remote and hybrid learning classrooms amid the coronavirus pandemic.
- Congress adopted several measures supported by cable that are designed to rapidly scale broadband expansion, including the $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program passed in December.
- Broadband networks continued to perform under an unprecedented growth in traffic as millions of consumers pivoted to work and learn from home. For example, Comcast’s network experienced almost two years-worth of traffic growth over the span of four months in the wake of pandemic lockdowns, That reliability is due to cable’s billions of dollars of investment into network infrastructure and the constant upgrading of the network.
- In Texas, cable broadband networks saw a 24.3% growth in downstream traffic and a 49.2% growth in upstream from March 2020 to March 2021, compared to national statistics of a 30.8% growth in downstream traffic and a 54.8% growth in upstream.
- Cable broadband providers are joining together to report key metrics during the pandemic to better inform the public regarding usage trends and network performance.