Bored binge-watchers bork beleaguered broadband by blasting bandwidth: Global average speeds down 6.31%

You can guess why – but in some places internet actually got faster

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Video-streaming binges as a result of the coronavirus lockdown have flooded broadband networks and led to a reduction in connection speeds.

This was confirmed by Cable.co.uk, which analysed a pool of 364 million speed tests pulled from 114 countries to determine that in nearly every region of the world, average speeds were down 6.31 per cent from what they were in the very early months of the year.

"The results are startling. Although an overall drop of just -6.31 per cent across all countries doesn't sound like an awful lot, this figure moves very much against the tide," Cable.co.uk said, noting that most years, speeds are expected to go up around 20 per cent as ISPs regularly upgrade their networks.

"For the majority of countries in this study to be moving in the opposite direction during their COVID-19 lockdowns, then, is all the more significant."

While the dip varies by country, pretty much every part of the world, as a whole, saw its average speeds drop as more people were pushed online due to being under lockdown and/or forced to work from home.

In the UK, the hit was fairly minor. The survey found that Brits only saw their average connection speeds dip by about 1.7 per cent. By contrast, Italy experienced a 10.44 per cent slowdown, the Netherlands a 13.01 per cent drop, and in Finland, internet speeds fell by a whopping 24.81 per cent.

The single biggest drop in speeds was awarded to China. The Great Firewall delivered citizens connections that were 51 per cent slower than would be expected pre-pandemic.

Americans were among the few who can lay claim to improved internet speeds. Across the US, speeds actually rose 3.32 per cent over the course of the pandemic. Canadians, meanwhile, saw their average connection speed drop by 10.82 per cent (kind of makes up for the healthcare thing, eh?).

Likewise, punters in Australia will not have noticed any slowdown as ISPs down under were able to log a 5.4 per cent increase in average speed.

Central America, as a whole, fared the worst of all regions. The study logged an average drop of 26.03 per cent, thanks in large part to big hits seen in Panama (down 49 per cent) and Guatemala (a 14.30 per cent dip). Mexico recorded a 2.35 per cent reduction.

Of all the global regions polled, only two managed to record an overall improvement. Speeds in the Caribbean were up by 3.5 per cent as Jamaica (7.68 per cent) and Trinidad and Tobago (19.16 per cent) both enjoyed improvements over the past few months.

The Baltics also got better internet as a whole, though that was mostly seen in Latvia, where average speeds climbed nearly 18 per cent.

It wasn't hard to figure why things slowed down. The study noted that, even with efforts from streaming services to save bandwidth by cutting quality, the flood of video being watched by users stuck inside their homes has overwhelmed networks.

"In terms of network capacity, the most dominant culprits when it comes to bandwidth consumption are video streaming services," said Cable.co.uk.

"Altogether, downstream video accounted of 60.6 per cent of total network volume during 2019."

In short, we were bored and binge-watched so many movies and TV shows that we broke the internet. Good job, everyone! ®

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