Data and voice usage spike as more people work from home during the coronavirus pandemic

Americans are using their mobile phones to talk again during the COVID-19 outbreak, as voice usage is up 25%, reports Verizon.

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Most businesses that can have shifted nearly all operations to remote. Much of the populace has been asked to shelter at home. Because of the dramatic lifestyle changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, reliance on data and voice use has surged, according to the latest Verizon Network Report, which compared March 12 to March 19.

Actually using a smartphone to talk was a novelty until fears of the communicable COVID-19 drove people to stay at home. The Verizon report found that voice use, which was long in decline, in comparison to texting, chat and social media, is up 25% as charted last week. 

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Also noted from the report is that "the primary driver of increased voice usage is accessing conference calling numbers." Additionally, people now talk longer on mobile devices with wireless voice use at a 10% increase and calls lasting 15% longer. 

"For years we've seen a steady decline in the amount of time people spend talking to one another, especially on wireless devices," said Kyle Malady, chief technology officer at Verizon, which has no caps on Verizon home broadband services. "The move to staying at home has reignited people's hunger to stay connected, voice-to-voice."

How Americans are spending their time, by the numbers: 

  • Total voice use on Verizon networks is up 25%, primary driver: accessing conference call services

  • Wireless voice use up 10%, call durations up 15%

  • VPN traffic is up 25%

  • Web traffic is up 22%

"We are in the first full week of this new American routine and we are certainly starting to see some patterns emerge," Malady said. "We anticipate we will see additional significant shifts in usage over the next few weeks as people adjust and adapt to the changing circumstances." 

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By N.F. Mendoza

N.F. Mendoza is a writer at TechRepublic and based in Los Angeles. She has a BA in Broadcast Journalism and Cinema Critical Studies and a Master's of Professional Writing, both from USC. Nadine has more than 20 years experience as a journalist coveri...