COVID-19 Impacts Use of Fixed Wireless Networks

  • Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA)

WASHINGTON — In early August, 2020, WISPA (Wireless Internet Service Providers Association) surveyed its WISP providers on the effect the pandemic has had on network use, changes in download and upload traffic, and network responses, among other matters. From this non-scientific survey, WISPA was able to observe a number of notable insights on how WISPs – who serve approximately 6 million Americans in rural and urban communities – deliver broadband to their customers in these trying times.

As a topline, while HD movie streaming continues to be a significant bandwidth driver both pre- and post-COVID, not surprisingly shut-in practices boosted virtual meetings/webinars and distance learning to the most used applications during the pandemic. As a consequence of this change, download traffic and upload traffic surged, pushing our members to upgrade both last-mile and backhaul capacity. This noted, usage remains highly asymmetrical during COVID, with only a small minority of customers citing faster upload speeds as a reason for upgrading their service packages where requested. Finally, though customer bandwidth needs have seemingly increased during the pandemic, the most popular service package for consumers is FCC-benchmarked broadband, even where symmetric gigabit services are available. 

Please find below more granular details of our survey.

Top 5 uses pre COVID

  1. HD movies streaming
  2. Email
  3. Web browsing
  4. Gaming
  5. Music streaming

Top 5 uses during COVID

  1. Virtual meetings/Webinars
  2. Distance learning
  3. HD movie streaming
  4. Telemedicine
  5. Web browsing

WISPs upgrading delivery network since COVID

  • 82% have

WISPs purchasing additional capacity from bandwidth suppliers since COVID

  • 58% have

Top 5 “speed” packages chosen during COVID

  1. 25/3
  2. 10/1
  3. 50/5
  4. 100/20
  5. 100/100

Average of asymmetric traffic characteristics during COVID

  • 7 – 1 (down to up)

Average change of download traffic at peak from pre to present COVID

  • +43%

Average change of upload traffic at peak from pre to present COVID

  • +70%

Percentage of customers who upgraded citing need for greater upload speed due to COVID

  • 12%

 

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