Urban networks showed strain but generally held up as Californians began sheltering in place

by Steve Blum • ,


Most broadband networks in urban California managed the load well as covid–19 shelter in place orders began taking effect, according to speed data analysed by BroadbandNow, a broadband sales website. The underlying data came from Measurement Lab, an open source Internet monitoring project that includes universities, foundations and major tech corporations among its members.

BroadbandNow compared the median download speed in the 200 largest U.S. cities (34 of which are in California) during the week of 15 to 21 March 2020 to the median speed range for the prior weeks of 2020. That’s the week that began with Bay Area counties imposing lockdowns and ended with a statewide quarantine order from governor Gavin Newsom.

Broadband speeds in 21 cities, mostly in southern and central California, stayed within 2020 ranges. The 13 that saw decreases were evenly split between the north and south.

San Jose, which along with Fremont had the slowest median speed, ran 38% under its prior 2020 range, the second worst in the state. Oxnard was hit the hardest in California, with a 42% drop in median Internet service speeds, which was also the second worst in the U.S.

I’m not reading too much into these numbers yet. The week of 15–21 March was an uneven scramble of lockdown orders and efforts to comply. The following week’s data, when all Californians were under more or less the same regime, will be more telling.

City                           Median download speed (Mbps) 15–21 March 2020% Below prior 2020 median range
San Jose29–38%
San Diego44–13%
Moreno Valley30–12%
Santa Rosa59–10%
San Francisco38–8%
Huntington Beach82–4%
Anaheim48In range
Bakersfield31In range
Chula Vista40In range
Corona52In range
Escondido44In range
Fontana38In range
Fremont24In range
Fresno34In range
Garden Grove42In range
Lancaster64In range
Long Beach41In range
Los Angeles41In range
Modesto34In range
Oceanside45In range
Palmdale59In range
Riverside40In range
Salinas53In range
San Bernardino45In range
Santa Ana30In range
Stockton38In range
Whittier53In range

Source: BroadbandNow