Apr 9, 2020 - Technology

Daily phone calls in the coronavirus era are outpacing Mother's Day

Illustration of a cell phone wearing a medical mask
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Americans' desire for more human connection as the coronavirus pandemic forces them to stay at home is leading to a surge in phone calls, the New York Times reports.

By the numbers: Verizon told the Times it is now handling an average of 800 million wireless calls a day throughout the week — more than double the number of calls it handles on Mother's Day, which is typically one of the busiest call days of the year.

  • AT&T said its number of calls has risen 35%, while the length of calls has also increased by 33%.
  • Meanwhile, internet traffic is up 20% to 25% on average per day.

Why it matters: Telecommunication companies were expecting to see a surge in internet use, but hadn't anticipated seeing such large spikes in phone calls. The spike in phone calls is especially surprising given how long it's been in decline.

  • The increase in calls is for both personal and business purposes. Prior to the outbreak, calls generally peaked in the morning and evening.
"For years, we've seen a steady decline in the amount of time people spend talking to one another, especially on wireless devices. The move to staying at home has reignited people's hunger to stay connected, voice to voice."
— Kyle Malady, Verizon’s chief technology officer

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