In short: what's happening to the network? How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted internet traffic?
Our team is collecting updates directly from the companies who are responding to these unprecedented conditions. Peruse their facts and findings below.
As in Q2 2020, the year-on-year traffic growth rate remained at a more normal level, around 50%, compared to the extraordinary peak in 2018 and the first part of 2019.
The quarter-on-quarter growth for Q3 2020 was 10%. COVID-19 related restrictions, such as lockdowns and constraints on movement, continue to be reflected in people’s communication patterns.
During the summer, Telenor saw text message numbers go up by 10%, and voice calls were 15% longer. Yet, these increases did not trump internet usage trends: data traffic was up by 35% in the summer months for Telenor users. Total used GBs also climbed 35% in the summer.
"While a surge in the popularity of livestream and messaging products was accompanied by significant traffic increases for those products, the largest traffic impact resulted from the relatively lower traffic growth of video products. Moreover, we found that traffic increases occurred mainly on broadband networks."
Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Ghana, Mrs Patricia Obo-Nai, has revealed the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ghana has seen the company’s operations and the demand for its services go up by 50%. According to her, the coronavirus outbreak has seen a surge and data traffic and an increased demand for network and infrastructure in Ghana.
AT&T reports core network traffic up 20% and a 40% increase in mobile voice minutes six months into the COVID-19 pandemic.
Considering the situation, data traffic and the number of mobile phone minutes grew as expected compared to the same period of 2019, with data traffic in April this year reaching record high consumption compared to all previous measuring, 191 PB, a 58% increase on April 2019.
In the case of Bharti Airtel, total voice minutes on the network decreased by 0.2% during the quarter compared to the preceding quarter when it had grown by 8.3%. Even voice usage per customer, per month, grew only by 3% quarter-on-quarter compared to 7.5% in the preceding quarter. Total data volume on the network increased by 12.2% quarter-on-quarter, which was slower than 16.3% in the preceding quarter.
Upstream traffic peaked ~60% higher than January levels when lockdown began, driven by rapid adoption of video conferencing applications.
Telstra has seen up to a 35% increase in traffic overall on its international network, as well as a shift from 10G to 100G services on its trans-Pacific subsea cables.
Until early 2020, online video calling was used far less than other services, with 35% of online adults using online video calling at least weekly in the 12 months prior to February 2020. By May, this had doubled to 71% of online adult consumers using online video calling services weekly, with 38% using them daily.
Virgin Media Customers Are Using Enough Extra Data to Watch 3.5 More Hours Netflix, Send Tens of Thousands of Emails a Day
Since lockdown started, every Virgin Media broadband customer has downloaded an extra 3.4GB of data per day on average compared to download levels in February, before lockdown measures began.
The company doubled capacity on one of its own undersea cables carrying data across the Atlantic and negotiated with owners of another to open up additional capacity. Network engineers installed new hardware and tripled the deployed capacity on the America Europe Connect cable in two weeks.
Tata recorded 1 billion minutes of Enterprise voice traffic in March alone.
However, video streaming rates are back to normal almost everywhere.
WIOCC saw an increase from 25Gbps to a daily peak of over 50Gbps of upstream international IP traffic into South Africa via the WACS subsea cable, on which WIOCC is one of the largest activators of network capacity.
"When looking at data usage via a desktop or fixed terminal, we have also seen an approximate 50pc increase throughout the day. This indicates much higher levels of utilisation during working hours than would normally be the case."
Peak downstream network throughput during evening busy hours has increased by 12% to 12.3 terabits per second compared to the pre-covid baseline. The peak for early evening hours has increased 12% to 11Tbps.
In most cases, network electricity usage has remained flat, even as voice and data traffic has spiked by 50% or more.
i3forum Insights showed a 20% increase in international voice traffic in March 2020, compared to the same month in 2019, while roaming traffic dropped by 30%.
Across the UK, EE’s network also saw a 45% increase in traffic for apps used primarily to communicate like WhatsApp, Houseparty, Skype, and Teams. Voice calls lasting for more than five minutes on average have doubled, with overall voice usage increasing by 45%
Wireline home internet traffic increased by as much as 48.7% for download traffic and as high as 69.2% for upload; mobile data traffic varied widely across carriers showing both increases and decreases in mobile traffic volumes.
Huawei estimates that India’s cellular traffic increased between 13 and 30% during the lockdown, taking it to the top in terms of data consumption anywhere in the world.
The latest summary report by the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications shows, in general, traffic on fixed and mobile networks has increased during the COVID-19 crisis, but no major congestion issues have occurred. Luxembourg has registered a slight decrease in overall internet traffic; Portual confirmed a decreasing trend.
Aryaka's David Ginsberg examined several of the operator's enterprise customers' network traffic patterns and identified a few surprising trends. For example, a global aggregation of Aryaka traffic data on its private network revealed that weekend traffic is on the rise.
Further, peak internet usage on April 13 was 50% heavier than normal. Mobile telephone calls on Videotron's network have been up an average 40%, peaking on March 23 at a 66% increase.
GCI has regularly seen 25% above average usage during peak hours throughout the pandemic. A spike in late-April was 44% above normal peak usage.
While it might sound counterintuitive that work-from-home measures led to an increase in corporate bandwidth demand, those customers needed more bandwidth at their offices as they added more VPNs for their WFH employees.
"YouTube is the undisputed king of internet traffic, with over 15% of all traffic on consumer broadband networks. Netflix is over 11% of the total volume of traffic, in second place behind YouTube."
Playstation and XBox account for 7.5% of all traffic in the Americas.
London saw the biggest jump (28.58%) to 112.37 PetaBytes.
Bell internet data volumes have increased as much as 60% during the day and 20% in the evening. Landline and wireless voice traffic has surged by up to 200% at peak times while conference calling is up 250%.
According to the latest Verizon Network Report, overall data volume across its networks has increased 19% compared to pre-COVID levels. While data usage remains at elevated levels, the changes in how people are using the network has stabilized.
However, looking at March 2019 to March 2020, Akamai saw network traffic had doubled year-over-year.
"While we usually see +10-50% traffic peak increase per annum, we now have this figure as the average increase in traffic in just a matter of days."
National upstream peak growth continues to decelerate for the second consecutive week, up 0.71% for the week of April 4-11 compared to increases of 4% and 7% the previous two weeks.
LINX serves more than 800 network operators from more than 80 countries. Overall traffic at LINX—which means the use of LINX by those varied and diverse networks—has increased, somewhere on the order of 30% since the start of the crisis.
Since March 1, Comcast has seen a 32% increase in upstream traffic and 18% increase in downstream traffic.
Over the course of 12 months, the Telefónica RedIP accumulated traffic growth of 30%, a figure already exceeded in 2020 between March 10 and April 12, which registered growth of 35%.
They've also tracked a 40% increase in traffic for their video-on-demand services and growth of between 20% and 40% for other video streaming services like Netflix.
“While usage in key categories is still up compared to a typical day, the large increases we saw over the first four weeks of this transition have started to normalize,” said Kyle Malady, Chief Technology Officer at Verizon.
Traffic in the UK increased by 78.6% over the nearly one-month period from February 27 to March 31, and download speed decreased by 30.3%. Meanwhile, Japan increased by 31.5% from February 18 to March 31, and download speed increased by 9.7%.
Also of note: mobile broadband showed its first month of decreased speeds in March 2020.
Traffic growth has become more manageable, reports Nokia. There is continued dramatic growth in videoconferencing apps; some now showing a 700% increase from February 1.
Vodafone has upgraded the number/size of interconnection points with other operators. They say by the end of April they'll have increased the capacity of some streaming provider caches by 60%, which reduces core and international bandwidth consumption.
nbn has noted a 71% increase in business hour traffic from pre-COVID-19 baseline levels.
"Last week, we saw close to 240,000 online sign-ups in a 24-hour period. In one day alone, Webex handled 4.2 million meetings – more than twice the average on a peak day before the pandemic. We have also hosted 14 billion meeting minutes in March, more than double the number in February."
Downstream bandwidth traffic has increased by 20.1% since March 1 and 4.3% the week of March 21-28. Upstream traffic during the same periods has increased by 27.7% and 7.3%, respectively.
Overall traffic volumes have risen by >50% with major regional differences, but mostly visible during non-peak hours as a result of people staying at home.
Telia Carrier | April 1, 2020
As a result, Google Meet's daily usage is more than 25 times what it was in January. Despite this growth, the demand has been well within the bounds of our network’s ability.
Rostelecom’s traffic has increased by 10% during the last three weeks.
The company has also seen an approximately 30% increase in data traffic since mid-March.
Also of note: VoIP and video conferencing up 212%.
"Measuring against a 'normal' baseline, USTelecom members have analyzed the traffic across their wireline networks and report that total traffic increased this week by a range of 17.3% to 37.4%, with an average increase of 25.5% and a median increase of 25%."
The company has 44 million daily users of Teams, which recently generated over 900 million meeting minutes in a week.
Microsoft | March 29, 2020
They've also noted double the number of users of online and cloud gaming platforms since last week, plus 10% average data traffic growth.
What This Tells Us: In this update from Verizon, we see that traffic using a VPN is also increasing. It's up another 9% week-over-week and 52% over a typical day.
Verizon | March 26, 2020
Facebook reports that they've seen up to 70% more time spent across their apps since the crisis arrived in the United States.
T-Mobile USA reports a 26% increase in SMS, 77% in MMS, and 45% in video game traffic. Additionally, the length of calls have increased 17%.
T-Mobile | March 24, 2020
Orange claims the number of users connecting to a corporate network remotely has increased 700% among their customer base. They've doubled capacity for simultaneous connections on their platforms. And the use of remote collaboration solutions—video conferencing, etc.—have risen massively, increasing by between 20 and 100%.
Orange | March 23, 2020
We're seeing unprecedented growth in global internet traffic. Most networks see 30–45% growth over a year; Nokia says they've already seen 20–40% peak increase in impacted regions over the last four weeks.
Nokia | March 20, 2020
"Since Tuesday this week, as people started to work from home more extensively, we’ve seen weekday daytime traffic increase 35-60% compared with similar days on the fixed network, peaking at 7.5Tb/s."
BT | March 20, 2020