Pandemic hasn’t crushed broadband networks—even rural areas are doing OK

A US map with lines representing communications networks.

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The sharp growth in residential-broadband traffic seen during the pandemic is starting to level off, new data shows. While Internet speeds have slowed somewhat in many parts of the United States, it turns out that even rural-broadband networks are holding up pretty well.

Speeds have dropped in rural areas but are stabilizing, BroadbandNow reported today. Median download speeds in rural areas ranged from 16Mbps to 19.9Mbps in each of the first 11 weeks of 2020. Speeds then fell to 15.5Mbps in March 22 to 28, the lowest recorded all year. But rural speeds went back up to 16.2Mbps in the week of March 29 to April 4.

Median upload speeds in rural areas ranged from 5.5Mbps to 6.3Mbps in the first 11 weeks of 2020 but have been just 5.1Mbps the last two weeks, the same report found:

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