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

30 March 2020 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
Oxnard 44 –42%
San Jose 29 –38%
Irvine 54 –20%
Torrance 49 –15%
San Diego 44 –13%
Moreno Valley 30 –12%
Sacramento 31 –11%
Hayward 51 –10%
Santa Rosa 59 –10%
San Francisco 38 –8%
Oakland 53 –7%
Huntington Beach 82 –4%
Glendale 53 –2%
Anaheim 48 In range
Bakersfield 31 In range
Chula Vista 40 In range
Corona 52 In range
Escondido 44 In range
Fontana 38 In range
Fremont 24 In range
Fresno 34 In range
Garden Grove 42 In range
Lancaster 64 In range
Long Beach 41 In range
Los Angeles 41 In range
Modesto 34 In range
Oceanside 45 In range
Palmdale 59 In range
Riverside 40 In range
Salinas 53 In range
San Bernardino 45 In range
Santa Ana 30 In range
Stockton 38 In range
Whittier 53 In range

Source: BroadbandNow