The global upheaval experienced during the last several weeks is manifesting itself in many aspects of our daily lives. Through this unprecedented crisis, we have stripped away many of life's extraneous elements to spend time with our immediate families while sheltering in place. However, to maintain contact with the outside world, access crucial information, communicate with family and friends, work and learn remotely, and entertain ourselves, we are more dependent than ever on connectivity.
Network operators have been thrust into the spotlight as wireless and wireline networks handle significant traffic shifts that are likely here to stay as new remote work patterns extend beyond the lockdown. Several network operators, analysts, and media outlets have been reporting on these changes and the need to react to them. There is no doubt that every network operator is studying and planning changes to adapt to this new reality.
As more people stay home, new strains on data networks are emerging. A Telecoms.com article states, with home broadband networks not necessarily designed for such a rapid increase in data usage consistently throughout the day, the networks are likely to become strained very quickly as parents and children both fight for connectivity resources." It goes as far as saying that networks will likely "get a test the likes of which the telcos have never seen."
Overall, network operators are thus far indicating that their networks are withstanding these changes; however, their announcements and actions are indicative of possible stresses and ongoing adjustments to staying ahead of the demand. One common theme – daytime traffic has shifted away from business areas to residential areas as people work, study and communicate more from home. Another major change is a sizable increase in upload traffic due to video conferencing as pointed out by Tuncay Cil, CSO of ASSIA, in his blog post.
Those with home wireline broadband connections are primarily connecting via Wi-Fi. However, clearly a significant amount of added demand is making its way onto wireless networks. AT&T CEO, Randall Stephenson, reported a 40% increase in mobile traffic with a portion of the new demand coming from telecommuters. (Source: The Verge, 3/22/20). According to Nokia Chief Solutions Officer, Wilson Cardoso, in his recent LinkedIn post (regarding Latin America), networks have experienced the demand shift to residential areas and seen 16% to 50% growth with the peak usage distributed between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m.
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— Dan Zagursky, VP, Strategy & Business Development, BandwidthX
Image courtesy of BandwidthX.