Social Distancing Doubled the Volume of Voice Calls in the U.S.

In its latest Network report, Verizon said it is now handling twice the number of wireless calls on weekdays compared to Mother’s Day. The operator said that their fiber optic and wireless networks continue to perform well, meeting the shifting demands of customers during this unprecedented time.

Mobile handoffs, the times when a data session moves from one cell site to another as users walk or drive around, are down 27% vs. a typical week, indicating people are increasingly staying in place. As people are being asked to stay physically distant, they are finding alternate ways to stay connected through a significant rise in calls, text and picture messages.

Verizon reported an average of nine billion texts each day on its wireless network, and 800 million wireless calls each weekday, nearly twice the call volume of Mother’s Day. Call durations are up 33% vs. a typical day, meaning not only are people calling more, they are staying on the phone longer.

“Typically, Mother’s Day is always our highest Sunday call volume,” said Kyle Malady, CTO for Verizon. “The weekday calling numbers are now significantly exceeding the national holiday honoring Mom. Our networks are meeting customers’ changing habits. In small pockets where there has been a significant increase in usage, our engineers are quickly adding capacity to meet customers’ demand,” added Malady.

The network report shows the primary driver of increased voice usage is accessing conference calling numbers. In addition, people are talking longer on mobile devices with wireless voice usage notching a 10 percent increase and calls lasting 15 percent longer. The latest week-over-week numbers during peak hour usage showed many people are turning to gaming as a way to pass the time, with a 75% increase over Verizon's networks. Video streaming increased by more than 12% and overall web traffic by just under 20%. Surprisingly, social media remained flat.

“As we see more and more individuals work from home and students engage in online learning, it is a natural byproduct that we would see an increase in web traffic and access to VPN. And as more entertainment options are cancelled in communities across the US, an increase in video traffic and online gaming is not surprising,” said Malady. “We expect these peak hour percentages to fluctuate, so our engineers are continuing to closely monitor network usage patterns 24x7 and stand ready to adjust resources as changing demands arise."

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