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Surging Traffic During the COVID-19 Pandemic Is Slowing Down the Internet

Photo by LinkedIn Sales Navigator on Unsplash

How Can the Internet Be Clogging Up? Is It a Physical Thing?

When most people think about the internet, they think about the radio waves, which magically transmit information to the gadgets near us. However, what most people do not realize is that the Internet is very much a real thing.

Physical cables under the sea are the backbone of the internet. Image Credit: The Guardian

How Did It Come to This Place? Weren’t the ISPs Ready?

The COVID-19 pandemic, which started in China and quickly spread around the world, made it imperative for people around the world to work from home and social distance to flatten the curve.


In Europe, internet traffic into homes over fixed lines was up more than 30 percent, according to Telefónica. Activities like online gaming and video conferencing have more than doubled, while messages over WhatsApp have more than quadrupled.

Mobile Broadband Performance in Europe. Image Credit: Speedtest

“Suddenly at 8 p.m. it goes down, then it goes back up,” Mr. Blanco said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

Europe took the most aggressive steps to prevent its internet from getting clogged up.

Fixed Broadband Performance in Europe. Image Credit: Speedtest

North America

Internet service providers like Comcast, Vodafone, Verizon, and Telefónica have been building out their networks for years to account for increasing demand. But company officials said they had never seen such a steep, sudden surge. The growth that the industry had expected to take a year is happening over days, said Enrique Blanco, the chief technology officer at Telefónica, a Spanish telecommunications company.

Mobile Broadband Performance in North America. Image Credit: Speedtest
Fixed Broadband Performance in North America. Image Credit: Speedtest

Asia and Pacific

In India, according to a report by Business Standard, the COAI also asked the Department of Telecommunications to instruct OTT players to comply. The telcos say their networks have seen a sudden spurt in demand of over 10 percent as more and more people work from home or are under quarantine at home due to the lockdown of cities. The disruption caused by the coronavirus has also meant more healthcare and education services, and payments are going digital.

Image Credit: Speedtest
Image Credit: Speedtest

What Role Can We Play Individually to Help Out?

While most of us will be using the internet a lot nowadays, there are things each of us can individually do to reduce the strain on the internet.



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