Can Vermont's broadband handle coronavirus pandemic?

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) As Vermonters stay home amid the coronavirus pandemic, state officials say there aren't any strains on the broadband grid.

Clay Purvis with the Vermont Department of Public Service says major providers can handle the uptick in traffic right now.

He says providers are most likely giving support to Vermont customers by waiving data caps and extending some low-income broadband services. Though, according to Purvis, everyone will experience slowness when internet lanes get crowded.

"When people have their entire family home, trying to do their school work, trying to work from home all at the same time, that can certainly max out the bandwidth you had available your house," Purvis said.

Europe has already experienced a broadband overload. Countries have asked telecom providers to reformat Netflix and other video streaming sites to stop congestion. If the U.S. heads in that direction, any action they take in Vermont will be in partnership with the FCC.

"We would take direction from them as to what would be needed certainly given that broadband networks are interstate nature," said Purvis. "So the Vermont piece of the broadband network might not be the piece that's really congested, it might be a primary or secondary provider that's serving a region or the nation."

The Department of Public Service has created a map of WiFi hotspots for people who don't have internet at their house.