According to a new report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF), U.S. broadband networks were able to better accommodate the COVID-19 crisis traffic surge compared to other nations. Since the beginning of the crisis, traffic ticked up between 20 and 40 percent. Despite this, U.S. providers were able to maintain the same levels of service with almost no drop in performance.
The study points to the facilities-based competition model the U.S. relies on to incentivize broadband investment as a primary factor in successfully passing the COVID-19 network stress test. Rooted in competition and light-touch regulation, this model has consistently resulted in higher per capita telecommunications investment compared to many other countries.
The report also noted that while the resiliency of U.S. broadband networks should give us confidence, COVID-19 has exposed shortcomings that competitive networks do not adequately address. This should galvanize policymakers to address serious gaps in rural infrastructure, affordability for low-income users, and at-home access for students.