US Internet CEO: 'If we can survive 'Game of Thrones,' we can survive COVID-19'

Inside the server room at US Internet HQ

Inside the server room at US Internet HQ David Joles/Star Tribune

Imagine the abject horror of being quarantined without internet. 

No Tiger King. No Zoom videoconferencing with the boys. No streaming the fantastic new Waxahatchee album

A life even worth living? Barely. 

Thankfully, even as network demand spikes due to coronavirus (COVID-19), Twin Citians will likely not experience any loss of internet connectivity. 

"Of all the things we need to worry about, peoples' internet is the least of them," says Travis Carter, CEO of Minnetonka-based US Internet. 

Internet networks are built to withstand extreme demand, he says, and the current usage boost isn't coming close to testing capacity. USI, whose territory covers much of south Minneapolis, is experiencing day-to-day traffic levels that mirror their previous high-demand hours as people work from home and lean into Netflix. 

"The biggest impact to traffic we’ve ever seen in 25 years of business was the Game of Thrones finale," Carter says with a laugh. "If we can survive Game of Thrones, we can survive COVID-19."

Comcast is also seeing increased demand, especially during daytime hours, according to PR rep Jill Hornbacher, but "overall peaks are still well within our network capability," she says. 

CenturyLink, the third major Twin Cities internet service provider, didn't respond to our requests for comment.

While the rosy local forecasts above are reassuring, internet speeds across the globe are plummeting as demand surges, the New York Times reports. Median download speeds are down 24 percent in New York, according to consumer research website Broadband Now. But throughout the U.S., that number is only at 4.9 percent, per broadband speed-testing website Ookla

USI, Comcast, and CenturyLink are among the 100+ ISPs who've signed onto the FCC's Keep Americans Connected Pledge, which states that companies won't disconnect customers who are unable to pay for the next 60 days. USI and Comcast recently made Wi-Fi hotspots free during the pandemic. 

Enjoy your very online weekend. Here's a quarentine playlist to bump while you order takeout