with much of the world staying home, will changing habits lead to an internet collapse?

with much of the world staying home, will changing habits lead to an internet collapse?

with so many schools, offices, and businesses across the globe on lock-down in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the internet has seen an unprecedented surge in usage. for much of the world, the social distancing and stay-at-home realty is here for the foreseeable future, and internet companies are scrambling to adjust to new traffic patterns. to lessen the strain on broadband networks, netflix, youtube, amazon, and apple will reduce streaming quality in europe in anticipation of a potential internet collapse. CNN sites a 2019 report by american networking equipment company sandvine, claiming that video accounts for over 60% of data delivered from internet providers to consumers, with netflix accounting for just under 12% of total traffic. google traffic, driven by youtube, accounts for another 12%.


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this call for individual users and companies to abandon high definition content followed a conversation between netflix CEO reed hastings and european union commissioner thierry breton. on wednesday, the commissioner tweeted: ‘important phone conversation with reed hastings CEO of netflix. to beat COVID-19, we stay at home. teleworking and streaming help a lot but infrastructures might be in strain. to secure internet access for all, let’s switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary.’ nielsen estimates that this mass trend of staying safe at home ‘can lead to almost a 60 percent increase in the amount of content we watch in some cases and potentially more depending on the reasons.’ the new work-from-home era further sees remote workers turning to video conference tools like zoom, which add an additional weight on broadband as live streaming is more demanding than video streaming.


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with concerns circulating, there seems to be no substantiated prediction that the internet will collapse due to the coronavirus outbreak. regardless of the clear spike in internet usage, no outages have so far been reported, and EU officials together with oversees electronic communications regulators will continually monitor internet traffic and respond to capacity issues. verizon CEO hans vestberg, speaking with CNN business, comments on the company’s capacity to handle the surge in traffic: ‘so far [there is] no congestion in the network, we can handle that, we have built a very robust network.’ the company is seeing different patterns of usage, including a 75% increase in gaming traffic and a 30% increase in VPN usage from the prior week.

coronavirus internet
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