BOSTON — The U.S. internet won’t get overloaded by spikes in traffic from the millions of Americans now working from home to discourage the spread of the new coronavirus, experts say. But connections could stumble for many if too many family members try to videoconference at the same time.
Some may have to settle for audio, which is much less demanding of bandwidth.
Separately, Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia on Saturday applauded announcements by several major U.S. internet providers for taking measures — including the temporary suspension of data caps and free broadband for 60 days for households with children who lack it — designed to better accommodate remote access for students, workers and public health officials. He and 17 other colleagues, Democrats and independents, had called for such measures in a letter Thursday to CEOs of AT&T, Charter, Comcast, Cox, Verizon, CenturyLink, Sprint and T-Mobile.
The core of the U.S. network is more than capable of handling the virus-related surge in demand because it has evolved to be able to easily handle bandwidth-greedy Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services.
“The core of the network is massively over-provisioned,” said Paul Vixie, CEO of Farsight Security and an internet pioneer who helped design its domain naming system.
But if parents are videoconferencing for work at the same time college and high school students are trying to beam into school, they could experience congestion. Figure a packet-dropping threshold of five or more users. That’s because the so-called last mile