Are We In Danger Of Breaking The Internet? [infographic]

In the U.S. more than two-thirds of the population is now stuck at home due to measures enacted to slow the spread of Coronavirus. Many are turning to the internet for entertainment, social connection, and remote work. The question on everyone’s mind now is... ok, not when is there going to be a vaccine, how long is it going to be like this, or am I going to have food. No, it’s a much more pertinent question, can the internet handle such a load?

Peak usage is now the norm, with record-breaking internet traffic increased by spikes in WiFi calling, online gaming, and VPN usage. WiFi calls particularly had a markedly large jump by 88% due, no doubt, to people attempting to make up the lack of social interaction. In addition to the new influx of calls, in March, AT&T reported an all-time high in Netflix streaming.

And on March 25th, users across the U.S. and Europe experienced outages lasting about an hour. In Seattle, internet traffic began spiking at the end of January, by March it had risen by 30%. Just to help put this in context, 30% is a spike normally typical during events like the Olympics.

If that were the worst of it we might be able to weather the storm of internet users. However, more traffic is coming, with the nearly 12 million schoolchildren in the U.S. who didn’t have internet access, who are now receiving service as aid from internet providers.

Further, dozens of telecom companies have signed the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected pledge. The agreement involves waiving late fees and not cutting service for lack of payment. Notable companies in the agreement include AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, Comcast, and Google Fiber. This means a lot of people who otherwise would elect to let the internet go, or those who couldn’t afford to keep service, will now also be using the internet.

What are service providers doing to bolster the infrastructure to accommodate the increased traffic? The FCC granted AT&T and Verizon temporary access to unused spectrum (radio wave frequencies that transmit wireless signals), to expand broadband access. AT&T also started deploying portable cellular sites to boost data coverage for first responders in Indiana, Connecticut, New Jersey, California, and New York.


While service providers are removing data caps and waiving overage fees, internet speed may still be a problem. The problem is that standard home internet prioritizes download speed, which favors streaming video. Now that so many are working from home, home networks are being overloaded by data-heavy business apps and video conferencing which need faster upload speeds.

If you don’t want to contribute to breaking the internet, there are a few things you may want to do for the best connection. Set up your router in a central location for better coverage, away from any other tech that may cause interference, and avoid cabinets or closets, which will obstruct your signal. Little known fact, your microwave operates at 2.4 GHz, so if your router is working on the same frequency, you may experience some issues. Using a 5 GHz router will evade any interference from your lunch or dinner.

Use Netgear WiFi Analytics, a free app that works with your router to test signal throughout your house, and identifies the best channel available. To change your router channel and DNS (Domain Name System):
  • Find your router’s IP address, usually can be found on the bottom of the device
  • Enter the IP address in your web browser and log in
  • Navigate to WiFi setting and enter the new channel
  • Also, choose a faster and secure DNS service by directing your router to use either Cloudflare (1.1.1.1 or 1.0.0.1) or Google (8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4)
Another option to boost speed is to try to reduce unnecessary traffic. Hardwiring your computer to ethernet will take some strain off your WiFi network and offer higher speeds with a wired connection. A last-ditch effort may be to change streaming settings by adjusting video quality on YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video. Depending on how high quality your streaming use usually is, it could have a worthwhile cut in data usage.

Hopefully, you now know the potential obstacles that many are facing and you’ve found some new tools to keep afloat. The internet is under more stress than ever before, let’s do our part to use it wisely.

Learn more ways to not break the internet during the pandemic here!

Is Covid-19 Going To Break The Internet? - Infographic

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