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The Internet Will Prevail Despite More Users During COVID-19 Pandemic

There are more individuals online due to COVID-19 keeping people at home.  You have remote partial and full-time workers, school children learning from home, and then you’ve got all the other people who already worked from home as well as homeschoolers, video chats and meetings.  It’s one massive amount of individuals and families using the internet for multiple hours a day. Don’t forget the number of people out of work searching for online employment. They are trying to figure out when their COVID relief money or unemployment money will come or watching their favorite online game, TV or movie streaming channel.

 

Video Feeds Are Slower

 

Even though the internet won’t vanish in these uncertain times of the pandemic, you will likely experience or have already noticed a lag in video feeds or slowness, due to higher volume traffic on the World Wide Web.  So, you must remember this if you feel like you are the only one being targeted by slow traffic, it’s probably not your computer unless you never do updates or you have an older machine.

 

The internet is not going to crash, don’t worry.  You just need to be a bit more patient and recognize these kinds of challenges.  They are going to happen when everyone and their brother is online at the same time, more specifically during the 9 to 5 typical work day.  During this high-volume time companies like Charter Communications have let their customers do self-installation of Spectrum’s affordably priced high-speed internet service.  This works if they already have one of the Spectrum TV packages or have an existing coaxial cable line in their home.

Internet Was Meant To Handle Massive Traffic

You must remember, the internet was designed to handle a ton of traffic.  It is a strong network and people are supposed to be able to get online, search, use video, send documents and, over time, we have gone from dial up to cable and Wi-Fi connections.  With the use of 5G (not yet everywhere) it will be even faster, even instant.  But, for now, we might not have the most ideal situation (slower with more traffic) however; we will have it in our homes on a larger scale because of the pandemic.

How The Pandemic Affected Internet Traffic

Cloudfare data shows an increase in traffic online as the New Year 2020 began.  From Jan 1st to mid-March there was an 18% increase in traffic.  Internet traffic has been steadily going up since March because of more people at home working or out of work. 

The data collected by Cloudfare has shown an increase in traffic online before and during the pandemic of 2020.  It shows a drop in online use later in the evening and at midnight.  For an example, in Seattle, from the start of the year to now there has been about a 25% increase in traffic at night compared to the typically lower traffic times at night, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Then by March it remained higher than day time increases in traffic in the month of January.

Ookla produced a data compilation that shows the United States internet traffic has been extremely high but the rate of performance has not been affected.  The download speed performance shows the same mean download for March 22nd as it does Dec 15, 2019.  According to this data it has been trending downward.  The typical broadband speed is 140 megabits per second.  The difference has only been about 10 megabits.  This isn’t much change and is not noticeable.

European Nations Seeing Internet Slowness Due To Weak Infrastructure Compared To US

While speed isn’t a great issue, there is a massive internet traffic increase in the United States.  In most countries it is more noticeable as their networks aren’t as dependable or built to have such large increases in internet traffic. For example, in Italy, they are experiencing speed reduction when going online due to increases in people using the internet at the same time.  The main reason for this is the infrastructures are older and not up to date.  Many European countries, as well as Italy, are experiencing this.  The United States standards for infrastructure are much higher compared to European nations.

Just like the US, Europeans have increased watching with streaming services.  It is more noticeable while watching services like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon. Netflix has had to limit traffic to their site by 25%.  YouTube is taking a different approach and the quality of the video feed has been compromised a bit. By doing this, websites for banks and other essentials tend to be faster while the influx of online users increases over in Europe, just like here.

Due to the scalability of the internet and the capabilities of being able to route the data while internet traffic increases are happening, in time, European countries internet speeds will improve.  Delivery of content can also be leveraged for reduction of data distance, which will help it move faster.  This will help streaming services have their quality of video back.

Understanding Infrastructure And The Tiers Of Internet

Infrastructure isn’t the only thing that makes the internet available to your home. A lot can depend on the type of service you get when you purchase an internet package from a telecommunications company. 

Companies such as Verizon and AT&T are Tier-1.  An example of Tier-2 communications companies would be Charter Communications, Comcast and Cox Communications.  Home packages are typically Tier-3 providers.  With these, you may experience some problems because the infrastructure is the old cable infrastructure and it has a connection point to the fiber optic set-up. The older system was only set up for cable TV use, so now it pulls double duty which makes video choppy and things can lag, especially when there is an increase in online traffic. Larger companies usually use fiber optic cable which has unlimited bandwidth and is all around faster internet. Videos won’t be choppy and information is sent much faster.

How To Help Your Network Congestion At Home

One of the main issues to worry about is the increase in online traffic right now; there will be “increasing latencies,” according to Carnegie Mellon University’s Justine Sherry.  She says this will result from too much data being built up in the network and create difficulties when video calling.  You should make sure there are a limited number of devices connected to your home network to help the congestion.

Cloudfare CEO Isn’t Worried About Traffic Issues, Facebook CEO Is

Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudfare isn’t concerned about the internet.  He says the internet can handle this kind of traffic.  It was built for massive amounts of traffic and if it can handle it during national events like the Super Bowl or traffic during the pandemic, then it can handle any other increased traffic our country may have. The company’s data has determined that traffic is sustained while it has increased as well. When high traffic occurs and it’s not crashing there should be no reason to worry about this happening.

However, CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg believes there could potentially be a problem and has is a bit worried about increased traffic that is not usually the norm.  Most employers discourage people from getting on their Facebook or other social media during the day.  There is a shift in the number of people using online sites now due to the pandemic and it is affecting his apps and social media companies.

While the Internet should stay on and functioning even at a slower pace, Mark Zuckerberg is worried about his platforms.  He believes, due to the high usage of his What’s app, Instagram and Facebook during the COVID-19 outbreak, there is a possibly of a crash. He said, we are “just trying to keep the lights on.”  This may be a logical fear, but as states have started to re-open, many folks aren’t going to have time to constantly be on Facebook or other apps, if they are back in the work place and not at home.

Increased Traffic And A Look At Cloud Function And The Future For Working Online

Because the future of increased traffic is unclear, companies are making sure they maintain reduced quality of video feeds.  This has assisted with diminished overall slowness of anything being accomplished online during the day, whether for fun or for work related purposes.

The cloud network is mostly storing the apps and other social media platforms and it’s handling everything fine for now.  Amazon Web Service has been handling large crowds of people for years, especially during Black Friday and other prominent holidays.  They may need to add more servers if things get busier traffic wise.  Many other cloud systems are doing well as they are.

There is no need to worry about being able to work from home or do schooling and entertainment.  Everything is being handled and monitored accordingly.

 

 

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Amita Choudhary

Amita Choudhary

Marketing Manager

Princeton Growth Accelerator

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Princeton

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