Network operators told the FCC that voice has emerged as the “new killer app”

In a call this week, wireless and wireline providers told Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai that fixed network traffic is up between 20-35%  across their networks, while cellular network traffic is up between 10-20%. With social distancing encouraged and schools and workplaces across the country shifting their functions online during the ongoing pandemic, increased demand is showing up suburban, exurban and residential areas during daytime hours, rather than the typical ebb and flow over the course of the day as people move into bustling city centers and then return home.

The FCC reported that “no providers expressed concern about their networks’ ability to hold up to increased and changing demand. … There was strong confidence in how well the network backbone was meeting the needs of increased demand.” Some companies told the FCC they had seen spikes in new customers signing up, and called the surge in phone calls a sign that traditional voice has become “the new killer app.”  

“It appears that our nation’s communications networks are holding up very well amid the increase in traffic and change in usage patterns. That’s thanks in part to networks being designed to handle ever-higher peak traffic loads and in part to a market-based regulatory framework that has promoted infrastructure investment and deployment. That said, we will continue to closely monitor the situation,” said Pai.

The call included trade association such as CTIA, the Rural Wireless Association, the Competitive Carriers Assocation and the Wireless Infrastructure Association, as well as specific carriers including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile US, US Cellular, Comcast, Cox, Charter, Dish Network, Altice USA and CenturyLink, among others.

Verizon reports drops in cell-site handoffs, some stabilization in usage changes

According to a network update from Verizon on Thursday, the effects of COVID-19 in the New York metro area are being reflected in mobility. Verizon reported that mobile handoffs are down 53% in the New York metropolitan area, compared to a typical day; in update New York, handoffs are down 49%. Verizon concluded that based on its network data, the Northeastern U.S. and the Mid-Atlantic regions “appear to have the most people in the nation staying at home.” In the Mid-Atlantic/greater Washington, D.C. area, Verizon is seeing handoffs down 39%, while in New England they have declined by 37%. Comparatively, northern California  cell-site handoffs are down 27% and in southern California, they have declined 27%.

“The significant decrease in handoffs is a very good indication that people in some of our hardest hit communities are listening to local authorities’ requests to stay home,” said Kyle Malady, Verizon’s CTO.

Meanwhile, traffic from collaboration tools is up 10x over a typical day, although Verizon said that “growth in other internet uses has started to stabilize.”

Gaming traffic on Verizon’s network is up 102% compared to a typical day, but peak hour use is only up about 1.6% from the previous week, Verizon reported. And while virtual private network use is up 40% from a typical day, peak-hour use was only up 4% from the previous week. Verizon’s web traffic was flat from the previous week, although it’s still up 24% over regular use. Downloads were still 27% higher than normal, but had dropped 25% from the rate seen last week.

“We expect to see some traffic growth of specific applications continue even as the changes start to slow for some others,” said Malady. “Our engineers are keeping a close eye on pattern changes and indicators, and we’re ready to adjust our resources to meet the continuously changing needs of our customers.”

The post Cellular network traffic up 10-20%; carriers tell FCC networks are holding appeared first on RCR Wireless News.


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