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COVID-19 and internet speeds across the world: What Ookla’s numbers show

By: Tech Desk | New Delhi |

Updated: March 23, 2020 12:34:10 pm

coronavirus covid19 wifi broadband network speed COVID-19 and internet speeds across the world: What Ookla’s numbers show

The coronavirus pandemic has come with new constraints for internet connectivity all over the world as more and more people move to a work from home format. With users across the world, including India, now relying on their home broadband lines to carry out work tasks and for their daily entertainment, there’s bound to be an impact on internet speeds given the strain. We have listed out some tips to make sure you get the most out of your WiFi.

Ookla, which is known for its Speedtest app, has now released numbers on the trends they have observed during this outage. Here’s a look at what the numbers show.

India and broadband speeds during COVID-19 outbreak

India typically does better on the fixed line broadband speeds, and mobile internet speeds are where we continue to lag. According to the February 2020 data from Ookla, when the coronavirus threat was not so severe, India’s mobile data ranking was 128 with an average download speed of 11.83 Mbps, while upload speeds stood at 4.61 Mbps.

In the fixed line broadband department, India was doing slightly better with a ranking of 69, though this does represent a drop of three places. The download speeds stood at 39.65 Mbps, while uploads were at 37.09.

ookla Fixed broadband performance in select Asian countries (Image source: Ookla)

So what happened once the coronavirus outbreak took place, especially in the beginning of March? Ookla’s data shows that fixed broadband download speed increased very slightly between the weeks of March 2 and March 9, just hitting 40Mbps for downloads.

But mobile download speed remained flat during this week, so the positive here is they have not fallen too much. However, data for the rest of March is yet to be made available, and it would be interesting to see how the trend plays out, given that most of India which relies on fixed broadband is now working from home.

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China’s internet speeds after coronavirus outbreak

Data from Ookla shows that mobile download speeds in China improved between the weeks of March 2 and March 9, while mobile download speeds in Hubei province during the week of March 9 were relatively flat.

The country saw a dip in fixed broadband performance due to the outbreak. China saw decreased download speeds and higher latency, including in the Hubei province, starting the week of January 13, 2020. Ookla notes that while mobile performance is steadily improving in China overall, mobile download speeds in Hubei are still low.

ookla Mobile broadband performance in some Asian countries (Image source: Ookla)

Italy and internet speeds during the COVID-19 outbreak

Given Italy is the worst hit during the pandemic with the highest death toll right, and with the country under lockdown, it is having an impact on internet speeds as well. In February 2020, Italy’s average fixed broadband line download speeds stood at 62.70 Mbps.

Data shows that the mean download speed on both mobile and fixed broadband have declined between the weeks of March 2 and March 9 in Italy overall, and in the Lombardy region specifically. Again this is the region in Northern Italy which is the worst impacted and under lockdown.

Latency has also increased on mobile and fixed broadband in Italy as a whole and on fixed broadband in Lombardy. The data showed decrease in the speeds from the week of February 17, once the outbreak started to grow.

Fixed broadband performance in select European countries (Image source: Ookla)

United States and internet speeds as COVID-19 cases rise

The United States is the third worst hit country in the list of those impacted by the pandemic, with cities like New York, San Francisco declaring lockdowns early on. Now, these have been extended to the entire state of California, New York, Connecticut and Illinois.

In February 2020, the average fixed broadband speeds in the country stood at 137.34. Data from Ookla shows that San Francisco saw its mean download speed over fixed broadband decrease in the week of March 2 and 9.

However, mobile download speeds increased during the same period. Ookla says the speeds for both fixed and mobile broadband are varying within a normal range through the week of March 2 in all areas of the United States, and they will update with more analysis later on.

Internet speeds in Germany, Spain

After Italy and the United States, Germany and Spain have seen the highest level of infections. In Germany, mean download speed over fixed broadband decreased slightly between the weeks of March 2 and 9. In Spain this decrease started earlier in the week of February 24 till March 9. France which has over 16,000 cases has also seen download speeds decline in the same week.

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