“This is kind of an anomaly,” Jason Gumbs, a regional senior vice president for Comcast, said of the earlier peak times. “It is unique to the COVID-19 time frame. We pretty much see the same kind of traffic patterns so this is a dramatic shift.”
Internet usage has been booming as entertainment outlets such as restaurants, movie theaters and retail stores have closed to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and social distancing guidelines have prohibited most face-to-face interactions.
Governments and businesses across the region also have turned to the Internet for virtual meetings and school classrooms have turned to applications such as Zoom.
Leon Hounshell, chief product officer for EarthLink, said his company is seeing similar changes in peak times to Comcast, though the impact does not feel as great.
"We are seeing peak usage at 9 a.m. and 7 p.m., but there is steady, higher usage throughout the day and night, making the peaks less pronounced," he said.
While AT&T does not break out its data numbers regionally, Atlanta’s usage is consistent with national figures, said Joe Chandler, a spokesman for the telecom company. AT&T said cell calls are up 29% while home phone call minutes increased 38%.
Comcast said it has seen a 49% increase in mobile data usage and web meetings up 228%.
“We are seeing usage increasing throughout the data being driven by video conferencing,” Gumbs said.