April 29, 2020

ACA Connects Members’ Networks Excel During Pandemic Even As Traffic Surges

Broadband Dashboard Demonstrates Customer Experience Remains as Promised

PITTSBURGH, April 29, 2020 – Today, ACA Connects, which represents more than 750 small to mid-sized broadband providers serving approximately 10 million subscribers, released its Broadband Dashboard, a data-rich rundown and analysis of broadband network performance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based upon new detailed metrics, the Broadband Dashboard demonstrates that, even while traffic has surged during the COVID-19 emergency ACA Connects members have continued to provide their customers with the same high-quality broadband experience that they have come to expect.

The findings in the Broadband Dashboard are based upon an extensive and detailed data collection and survey of the smaller broadband providers that are ACA Connects members that examined in detail the attributes of broadband network usage and performance.

For network usage, the collection/survey explored both download and upload usage throughout the day and at peak. For performance, the collection/survey examined separately transit and access network utilization, which are the critical metrics used by network engineers and which until now have not been analyzed in other studies of network performance during the emergency.

The collection/survey also examined customer interactions with smaller broadband providers about issues with broadband performance and measures taken by these providers to ensure customers receive the performance they were promised.

Among the key findings from the collection/survey are:

During the emergency, for ACA Connects members’ networks:

·     Daily download usage increased on average by 27%, and upload usage increased on average by 36%

·     Peak download and upload usage continued to occur at around 9 PM, but peak download usage at this time increased on average by 24% and peak upload usage increased by 34%

·     Even while usage surged, network utilization – the key metric for user experience — remained within normal operating ranges in virtually all instances, and

·     Where rare network issues arose, these issues largely involved slower than expected speeds — not outages — and our members typically dealt with them in less than 24 hours.

The survey also found that ACA Connects members continue to actively oversee their networks to provide customers with an unparalleled experience, including by adding transit capacity, splitting nodes, managing channels, and upgrading hardware.

The fact that our members’ networks performed as their customers expect during the emergency is a testament to the billions of dollars they have invested in their broadband networks over the past decade.

The DOCSIS and Fiber to the Home networks our members have built provide high-performance, reliable broadband service, and these networks have sufficient spare capacity to handle the significant surges in traffic and different usage patterns that we have seen over the past two months.

Moreover, our members engage in reasonable network traffic management practices to address any unusual circumstances, undertake preventative maintenance, and undertake repairs and upgrades expeditiously — even before a problem arises. And, our members continue to invest to upgrade and expand their networks to meet consumer demands from greater performance and innovative services.

The collection/survey for the Broadband Dashboard was conducted by the strategic consulting firm Cartesian over the past three weeks. Cartesian surveyed the ACA Connects membership and conducted in-depth interviews and collected additional information from dozens of members, assisted for some by OpenVault.

Cartesian collected information on customer data usage, network utilization measured in the transit and access portions of the network, customer inquiries about service problems, and actions by smaller broadband providers to manage and upgrade their networks and services.

About ACA Connects: America’s Communications Association – Based in Pittsburgh, ACA Connects is a trade organization representing more than 700 smaller and medium-sized, independent companies that provide broadband, phone and video services to nearly 8 million customers primarily located in rural and smaller suburban markets across America. Through active participation in the regulatory and legislative process in Washington, D.C., ACA Connects’ members work together to advance the interests of their customers and ensure the future competitiveness and viability of their businesses. For more information, visit: https://www.acaconnects.org