Internet usage soared 25% within a few days in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic started forcing Americans to stay home, a Wall Street Journal analysis found, and is bound to remain substantially higher than before the pandemic.
The shelter-at-home orders that followed President Trump’s March 13 emergency declaration meant that millions of Americans had to rely on their home internet to work, learn, communicate and entertain themselves—from video streaming to gaming.
The increased internet usage has pushed broadband providers to perform round-the-clock enhancements on their networks, in hopes of minimizing hiccups to connection and speed. Quarterly broadband subscribership and revenue for these companies have shot up, boosted by crisis-related relief pledges as well as more people in need of at-home internet service and signing up for faster, and more costly, speeds.
Internet usage gradually slowed after the end of March, and fell more rapidly as some states began reopening in May, only to rise again in June as coronavirus infections rebounded.
Many states were affected differently—and their internet usage reflects that. Heavily urbanized regions such as the New York City tri-state area and California were among the first to go into lockdown, during which their internet usage remained relatively stable.
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