The Online Boom

As the pandemic shut down business and travel activity in the U.S. economy, it caused a dramatic increase in one industry sector: online activities. The Comcast organization recently released a report showing that peak Internet traffic rose 32% over pre-pandemic levels, and over 50% in March 2020.

You might think that this was due to Zoom calls replacing in-person conversations among families and between businesses and customers, but in fact, videoconferencing traffic accounted for less than 5% of overall network usage. Video streaming (movies and entertainment) accounted for 71% of all downstream traffic—with growth rates ranging from 20 to 40 percent. Video gaming (10% of total traffic, with up to 80% growth in 2020) and web browsing (8%) were other areas where people spent their quarantine time.

The report found that 62% of employed Americans were working from home during the pandemic, and 93% of households with school-age children engaged in some sort of distance learning.

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