How COVID-19 Has Affected Rural WISPs in Canada
With demands for self-isolation and community quarantines rising across Canada amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the nature of daytime internet usage is changing. Whenever such a fundamental shift in the way people live and work happens, the impact is felt by all service and utility providers. Fixed Wireless internet service providers, or WISPs as they’re commonly called, provide critical last mile connectivity to rural communities across Canada, helping to bridge the digital divide.
Preseem is used by Fixed Wireless ISPs to monitor, analyze, and improve the quality of experience (QoE) they deliver to their subscribers. Preseem ingests billions of metrics from its customer base, consisting of Fixed Wireless ISPs primarily in North America.
Given this unique position, Preseem can provide macro-level insights on how the spread of COVID-19 and changes in social behaviour are changing internet usage and other patterns for network operators. The following data was collected across WISPs in Ontario and Quebec to avoid time zone effects.
First Few Days of COVID-19 in Canada: Increase In Total Internet Usage Across Fixed Wireless Networks
Comparing the Monday-Wednesday period starting March 9th to the same timeframe the following week, it’s evident that total average internet usage went up by almost 20%. Declaration of provincial emergencies, school closures and mandatory work-from-home policies by many private sector employers all resulted in this dramatic surge in internet usage across rural fixed wireless networks.
First Few Days of COVID-19 in Canada: Usage Shift During Business Hours
It’s also interesting to see the shift in internet usage during typical business hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) across the three-day comparison period.
Internet usage during the Monday to Wednesday period starting March 16th increased by 16.8% vs that of the previous week. With many people working from home to do their part in ‘flattening the curve,’ internet usage across residential customers for rural wireless networks increased dramatically.