Also in this roundup: US broadband speeds seem to be holding up (sort of); Project Thor finally arrives in Colorado; and on-net access to fiber-based network services reaches 1 million commercial buildings.
With most of the globe stuck at home this past month, there's been reasonable concern about whether ISPs can handle the stress of more and more people relying on access to services like videoconferencing for everything from school to work to telehealth consultations to virtual happy hours (Ed. note: Please stop inviting me) and beyond.
That concern is certainly valid in the UK, where according to new data from ThousandEyes the self-described "X-Ray machine of the Internet" which provides network intelligence for enterprises and service providers, ISP outages in the UK were up by a whopping 80% last week, with a 50% increase in public cloud outages. Globally, however, the situation is less dire, with outages falling by close to 10%.
Meanwhile, in the US, there are signs of network recovery. According to an Internet speed analysis conducted by BroadbandNow for March 29 - April 4, while 97 US cities recorded download speed degradations, that number is down from 117 cities the week prior. Similarly, 139 cities reported upload speed disruptions, down from 144 cities the previous week. The numbers are improving for rural communities as well, with download speeds climbing to 16.2 Mbit/s compared to 15.5 Mbit/s for the week of March 22.
But the US still has little to celebrate as far as access to the underserved is concerned: While the FCC claims 21.3 million Americans lack broadband access (bad), BroadbandNow's analysis puts that number at a much higher 42 million (really bad).
Helping with that problem, Project Thor arrived in northwest Colorado on Tuesday of this week. Designed to service 14 mountain communities, Project Thor is a 400-mile fiber network that will provide high-quality, affordable broadband access and redundancy for communities that experience regular outages. The project, started in 2014, is funded by a $1 million grant from the state Department of Local Affairs for infrastructure and a $270,000 grant to lease the cable from CDOT for the first three years; as well as matching funds from local governments.
New research by Vertical Systems Group shows that more than 1 million commercial buildings and data centers now have on-net access to fiber-based network services, marking a clear expansion of commercial access to direct fiber. According to Vertical Systems Group, the top four companies (AT&T, Verizon, Spectrum Enterprise and CenturyLink) each have more than 100,000 on-net fiber lit buildings, with AT&T taking the fiber lead for the fourth consecutive year. But while much of the discussion of fiber expansion centers on 5G, three of the top six service providers with the most fiber-lit buildings are, in fact, cable companies: Spectrum, Comcast and Cox.
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