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VPN and Netflix usage surging during COVID-19 pandemic

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As more cities in the US are enforcing lockdowns and millions of Americans are practicing self-isolation, VPN usage has jumped in the US and several other affected regions.

VPN usage spikes

According to data collated from Atlas VPN’s userbase, there has been a 124% spike in VPN usage in the last two weeks, and a 71% increase in the past week. Additionally, researchers have found that the US has the highest VPN usage among countries dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Italy and Spain also experienced higher VPN usage, with 160% and 58% increases in the last two weeks.

VPNs are no longer only being used by teenagers who want to illegally download or stream movies without getting caught. Today, anyone who works remotely and regularly logs onto public WiFi is likely to use a VPN to protect their internet traffic from unwanted onlookers. Cryptocurrency users are particularly advised to use VPNs because their digital funds are at risk when logging onto unsecured networks without a VPN.

Netflix & chill in quarantine

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Netflix usage has also soared in many of the hardest-hit countries.

According to a research note published by Credit Suisse, Netflix has seen downloads surge in several of the most affected countries, including South Korea, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Italy, and Spain.

"The data in [...] Hong Kong and Korea present a strong case Netflix is seeing increased demand, as first-time app downloads inflected positively starting in January and continued into March," Credit Suisse analyst Douglas Mitchelson wrote.

"In Italy and Spain, new app downloads began to spike in mid-February. As of last week in Italy (Netflix app downloads) were nearly double where they were when February began and (they) are over 50% higher in Spain," he added.

"Netflix should see a significant benefit to user engagement, particularly in the US and Europe, which are requiring large-scale social distancing measures resulting in people being stuck at home with limited entertainment options," Mitchelson concluded.

It is no surprise that when people are forced to stay at home, streaming services such as Netflix will be in high demand. In fact, Netflix has been in such high demand in Europe that the European Union has asked the streaming service to avoid straining the internet.

EU Commissioner Thierry Breton stated on Twitter that he has asked Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to switch from HD to a lower definition to "secure Internet access for all."

"Following the discussions between Commissioner Thierry Breton and Reed Hastings — and given the extraordinary challenges raised by the coronavirus — Netflix has decided to begin reducing bit rates across all our streams in Europe for 30 days," a Netflix spokesperson told Business Insider following Breton’s statement.



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Alex Lielacher, Khareem Sudlow