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Global internet speeds dropped by 6.31% during Covid-19

Written by Tue 4 Aug 2020

Cable.co.uk analysed a pool of 364 million speed tests sourced from 114 countries during their most stringent lockdown periods

Exactly how the seismic uptake in data consumption impacted connection speeds during lockdown has been a hot topic throughout the pandemic.

A number of providers have released a raft of data showing the level of disruption to their networks (or lack thereof), but it’s been hard to parse a global picture from the smattering of reports released so far.

For those seeking a more comprehensive account of how the world’s networks were impacted by the surge in content streaming, video streaming and online gaming by home-bound populations, they can look no further than Cable.co.uk’s pretty exhaustive analysis, released this week.

Cable.co.uk looked at a pool of 364 million speed tests sourced from 114 countries during and outside their lockdown periods, as defined by the Oxford COVID Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT).

According to its report, global speeds fell by an average of 6.31 percent during the most stringent lockdown periods, compared to levels recorded pre-pandemic.

“We were able to pinpoint the precise period in each country where lockdowns were at their most life-limiting, and match them up with over 364 million (M-Lab) speed tests,” explained Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk.

“Although an overall drop of just -6.31 percent across all countries doesn’t sound like an awful lot, this figure moves very much against the tide,” said Howdle, adding that the company’s global speed tracker showed increases of 20 percent year-on-year since 2017.

Howdle said while it was “impossible to attribute direct causality”, the study demonstrated a “high correlation between lockdown periods around the world and dips in measured internet speeds”.

Regionalised picture

Cable.co.uk’s analysis showed pronounced regional correlations in speed drops and rises, with countries close to one another performing similarly well or poorly.

In Western Europe, which experienced a 4.66 percent drop overall, 12 out of 15 countries exhibited discernable drops in internet speed during their lockdown periods.

Ireland (-2.23 percent), United Kingdom (-1.70 percent), Portugal (-0.19 percent), and Switzerland (+2.90 percent) performed strongest, while Finland (-24.81 percent), Netherlands (-13.01 percent), Austria (-10.47 percent), and Italy (-10.44 percent) exhibited the largest dips in average speeds.

In Northern America, Canada’s speeds fell by -10.82 percent during its most stringent lockdown period. By contrast, the United States actually saw a small rise in speeds during its lockdown period (+3.32 percent).

Countries in Asia posted some of the largest drops in average speeds. 12 of the 19 qualifying countries experienced slower internet speeds during their lockdown periods, with China (-50.97 percent) showing the largest drop both in the region and the world.

South Korea (-30.45 percent), Malaysia (-29.51 percent), Sri Lanka (-23.29 percent), Bangladesh (-21.76 percent), India (-21.05 percent), and Nepal (-20.77 percent) also experienced significantly slower speeds during their lockdowns.

Which region performed the strongest? That mantle goes to the Caribbean (although only four countries qualified for measurement). Puerto Rica was up 0.75 percent, Jamaica 7.68 percent and Trinidad and Tobago 19.16 percent. Bucking the regional trend was the Dominican Republic, which posted a 26.52 percent fall in internet speeds.

Written by Tue 4 Aug 2020


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