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.
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