So far, Covid-19 has led to the cancelation of events like E3 2020, degradation in Netlfix quality, and malware. Now, the latest statistics from Speedtest.net’s Ookla suggest broadband speeds are also being degraded in some locations.
According to the data, the United States’ mean download speed fell from around 142 Mpbs to 133 from the beginning of March. A similar dip occurred in Canada, from around 128 to 121, but Mexico’s remained relatively steady. All three saw a slight rise in latency.
Europe’s results were a little more mixed, but on the whole, the trend was downward. The Netherlands speeds were around 70 at the start of the month but, curiously, had ridden sharply to 77 by March 22. Other countries bucked the upward, though, France falling from roughly 46 to 40, and Switzerland from 65 to 50. Spain’s and Italy’s speeds also fell, while the UK and Germany remained relatively steady.
As you’d expect, Asia shows a slightly different story. In China, speeds dropped sharply in January, at the beginning of the outbreak, before returning to normal in February. In March, they’ve again seen a slight dip. India, meanwhile, has seen a dip from around 40 to 38 in the past week, with a similar drop in Malaysia from 80 to 77. Hubei, the Chinese province hit hardest by the virus, saw more dramatic drops than the country as a whole. Japan has remained largely regular.
However, it’s worth noting that broadband speed isn’t only determined by usage. The hit to end-users can depend on a lot of factors, including the country’s infrastructure, its quarantine measures, which may restrict repair work, and more. Ookla does not have access to the number of people utilizing the internet at any one time, but it can see how many people are performing speed tests.
From the beginning of February to March, the global percentage change in broadband test volume rose by 45%, and mobile by 50% since the start of March. In India, test volume rose as much as 80% since the beginning of the month, and all European countries have seen significant increases of some sort.
An increase in test volume could also be for several reasons. There are likely more users home to run tests, but it could also be a result of issues with other services. Netflix, for example, recently announced that it was reducing its streaming quality in Europe to cope with increased volume. Seeing the worse quality, it’s likely a user would check their connection. The same can also be said for services like Microsoft Teams, while several games and other services have seen complete outages. Ultimately, the reduction in speeds isn’t that surprising given the circumstances, but it’s still intriguing to see the specific numbers.