The Internet isn’t bogging down but people are upgrading home connections

This article from Duluth News Tribune echoes what I’ve heard from others – that Internet traffic may be up slightly but mostly it’s just a time shift for busy periods. And the greatest bottleneck may be the network in your house (I’ve also heard server of the website you want to reach)…

“For the majority of providers, 9 o’clock on Sunday night is a crazy busy time for a network,” said Brent Christensen, president and CEO of the Minnesota Telecom Alliance, which is the trade association for 43 telecom providers throughout the region. “Probably a lot of that is Netflix, but it could also be people rushing to get ready for the next week of work and kids getting homework assignments done at the last minute.”

Most telecom companies have built networks well in advance of the pandemic that have been built to handle much higher levels of traffic than are currently being seen. When people are seeing slowdowns in their home networks, it is usually a result of much higher internet use under their own roof.

“Our backbone networks were designed for heavy usage. We engineer the networks for multiples of what’s actually being used, just to handle upticks in traffic like this,” said Christensen, whose family owns Christensen Communications in Madelia, Minn. “You will see slowdowns in your home network, not necessarily on the internet, because your home wifi network is maxed out. Take all of your laptops, then add on the internet of things, like an Alexa device somewhere in your house, or a Nest thermostat, or phones connected to the wifi in your house. You could have 30 or 40 devices in your house using the wifi, when all you think about are three or four laptops. So there’s a lot of traffic going over your home network and that’s where you’re seeing a bog down.”

An interesting addition here is the recognition that households are upgrading and going online more..

Due to that increased usage within many home wifi networks, telecom companies are seeing a demand for upgrades, and some first-time buyers of home internet. In the past, cost was always considered the main reason that people did not have internet access at home. Instead, they are learning that many people primarily accessed the internet at work, and would use data on their phones at home if they needed to get online. That has changed with more people working from home, and more students doing distance learning.

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About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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