2020 Recap: How the Internet Held Up During a Global Pandemic
There was major concern last year that the internet might fail under the pressure of increased use as COVID-19 drove unparalleled waves of remote work and schooling. We watched internet performance carefully using data from Speedtest Intelligence® as conditions changed in different areas of the world. Now we’re back to assess what happened during the year as a whole.
A note on the methodology: 5G launches drove up mean internet speeds on mobile in many countries. For this reason we’ve simplified our view to include only median speeds, which are less subject to being skewed by especially fast 5G tests.
Mobile speeds dipped in many G20 countries in the spring of 2020
Median download speeds over mobile in many G20 countries dropped at some point during 2020. Countries that saw month-to-month declines during the spring include: Australia, Canada, France, India, Italy, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain and Turkey. China saw a decline in mobile speed in February while Japan suffered a drop in June and July. Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia and the United Kingdom showed only very minor decreases, while speeds in Germany, Mexico, South Africa and the United States remained unchanged or increased.
Despite the drops, almost all G20 countries saw higher median download speeds over mobile in December 2020 than they had in January 2020. Median download speed over mobile increased 76.3% in China during that time. Germany saw a 62.8% increase, the United States 56.9%, South Korea 55.5% and Saudi Arabia 48%. Turkey saw a 0.7% decrease in median download speed over mobile during the same period.
Despite interim dips, fixed broadband improved in all G20 countries during 2020
There were notable dips in median download speeds over fixed broadband in many countries during the spring of 2020. G20 countries that saw these declines on a monthly basis include: Argentina, Canada, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and the United States. Brazil, China, Germany and Russia notably showed only increases in month-to-month median download speed over fixed broadband during this time. Other countries showed only very minor decreases.
Perhaps most important, all G20 countries saw higher median download speeds over fixed broadband in December 2020 than they had in January 2020. Median download speed over fixed broadband increased 51.9% in Brazil during that time. France saw a 48.3% increase, Japan 46.5%, Saudi Arabia 43.7% and South Africa 40%. South Korea saw the smallest increase in median download speed over fixed broadband over the same period at 8.1%.
We are impressed, on the whole, with how well the internet held up to the massive scale of increased use during the past year. Of course, month-by-month, country-level views are averages that might not reveal problems with specific mobile operators or internet service providers on individual days. If you want to assess how your internet connection is performing right now, take a Speedtest®. And if you are unable to connect to a specific service on the internet, check Downdetector® to see the status of that service.