Increased demand has driven Internet giants to speed up their network and server upgrades

nanoguy

Posts: 449   +4
Staff member

Medical professionals at the front lines are crucial to fighting the large number of people that have been infected with the novel coronavirus. However, it's just as clear that the Internet is playing a huge role in helping us get through this crisis by connecting people around the world, and allowing many to work, study, and shop from the comfort of our homes.

With so many people now using business and videoconferencing apps to get their jobs done, not to mention flocking to streaming services, it'd be easy to assume the Internet would bow under the unexpected surge in online activity.

If we look at Akamai, whose platform relies on 270,000 servers spread in 4,000 locations around the world, the data indicates that global Internet traffic increased 30 percent during March, or just about ten times the average monthly rate of growth. CEO Tom Leighton explains that it's another way of saying that Akamai has seen one year's worth of traffic in the span of a few weeks.

Cloudflare, another Intenet infrastructure giant, has published similar findings. It also made some illustrations that show how the pandemic has changed the way we use the Internet. An easy observation is that traffic has decreased in office buildings (red blobs on the map) and increased in residential areas (green blobs).

Overall Internet traffic in San Francisco increased over 48 percent from February 19 to March 18. A similar trend was observed in London and Paris, with traffic up over 22 percent. The effect is less pronounced in cities like Tokyo and Berlin, where there's already a huge number of heavy Internet users.

According to Vodafone, traffic in Italy and Spain surged almost 50 percent, and peak hours also shifted -- the telecom giant used to see the highest pressure on its network between 6 PM and 8 PM, but now it happens somewhere around 12 PM. These parameters are more or less the same for all 65 countries where Vodafone operates.

Video accounts for an estimated 50 to 60 percent of all Internet traffic, depending on who you ask. That's also why the EU urged platforms like YouTube, Netflix, and others to reduce video bitrates to reduce the strain on infrastructure. In the US, ISPs like Comcast made its Wi-Fi hotspots free for everyone and waived its data caps for broadband customers.

Ookla, a company that monitors Internet connection speeds, says it saw a steady but slow decrease in fixed broadband speeds throughout the second half of March and the first week of this month. Mobile broadband saw a negligible change in average speeds around the world, which is in line with the observation that right now people tend to use computers more than smartphones.

And while telecom companies say there's enough bandwidth to keep up with the increased demand, MIT Technology Review says ISPs and companies like Netflix and Equinix are scrambling to bolster network and server capacity just in case. Furthermore, we wouldn't have had this robust mesh of Internet infrastructure in the first place if there wasn't for retail giants like Amazon and cloud service providers like Dropbox and Microsoft who needed to build it.

As these companies expand their global presence, they also invest heavily in content delivery networks, which are essentially shortcuts to last-mile broadband providers like Verizon and Comcast. This ensures that consumers get access to an Internet pipe that's dedicated to specific services and are able to go around some of the limitations of using the public infrastructure.

The pandemic may interfere with supply chains for network and server equipment, which could hinder these developments. Then you have developing regions in Africa and rural areas in the developed world that have far less access to broadband connections, which means those people will be at a disadvantage.

Still, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince thinks the Internet trumps every other utility, including electricity and transportation, in the ability to handle a massive and sudden increase in usage.

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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 2,644   +2,263
Shoulda done it in the first place.

I'm fortunate to have FIOS here in NYC. Unlike Time Warner Cable (Spectrum) I share no bandwidth with anyone and my speeds are tremendous across all my devices.

They promised me "gigabit" speeds and I'm seeing very close to it or better - regardless the time of day.

Meanwhile, "cable" services are suffering really badly due to the online gaming and Youtube/ video binging.
 

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psycros

Posts: 3,088   +3,141
For me, one silver lining that I hope for is that people rediscover that the Internet should be a tool first and an obsession second, the way DARPA and the early pioneers intended. Use it to work, study and stay close in touch with those you can't be with in person. And yes, enjoy all the entertainment it has to offer in moderation. I'm really hoping that when we're all finally allowed to leave our caves that we get to know each other again as people and not just as lines of text.
 
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Lionvibez

Posts: 1,768   +987
Shoulda done it in the first place.

I'm fortunate to have FIOS here in NYC. Unlike Time Warner Cable (Spectrum) I share no bandwidth with anyone and my speeds are tremendous across all my devices.

They promised me "gigabit" speeds and I'm seeing very close to it or better - regardless the time of day.

Meanwhile, "cable" services are suffering really badly due to the online gaming and Youtube/ video binging.
As someone else who is on a fiber connection you do share bandwidth with the people on your fiber split. However its not even close to the mess you have on a regular cable node with 80-120 users on average. Fiber Splits are usually 16 or 32 users and there is alot more bandwidth.

When I do my video conferences for work you can see the cables users running into bandwidth issues because there stream lag or it lowers the res or frame rate to compensate.

When I online game with friends on cable who usually already have higher pings than me are even higher than usual cause of whats going on now.

So yes those of us lucky to have a fiber connection right now are not suffering from the issues on the Cable/dsl connections.
 
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QuantumPhysics

Posts: 2,644   +2,263
As someone else who is on a fiber connection you do share bandwidth with the people on your fiber split. However its not even close to the mess you have on a regular cable node with 80-120 users on average. Fiber Splits are usually 16 or 32 users and there is alot more bandwidth.

When I do my video conferences for work you can see the cables users running into bandwidth issues because there stream lag or it lowers the res or frame rate to compensate.

When I online game with friends on cable who usually already have higher pings than me are even higher than usual cause of whats going on now.

So yes those of us lucky to have a fiber connection right now are not suffering from the issues on the Cable/dsl connections.

I'm not sure what happened to the picture I posted, but I get about 1Gbps up and 1 Gbps down.

It's stunning how fast all my stuff is whether you use WiFi or not.
 

PurpleYoda

Posts: 94   +54
The article starts with: Medical professionals at the front lines are crucial to fighting the large number of people that have been infected with the novel coronavirus.

What again? They fight the people? ;-) As in every zombie apocalypse movie? Made my morning ;-)
 
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Yynxs

Posts: 544   +183
TechSpot Elite
With certain Chinese parts "prohibited" and 'tariffs' so high, are they getting the server upgrades from stored stock? companies like 42U? Where did all this sudden server upgrade capability part stock come from in less than a month?

I generally wonder how tech infrastructure suddenly appears when there's money to be made. Maybe Amazon had some returns.
 

texasrattler

Posts: 847   +351
Gaming isn't what's eating up bandwidth when it comes to sharing a connection. Streaming of any kind takes up a lot more bandwidth than any game.
Anyone who claims otherwise dont know how it works or has a very bad connection/equipment/node in their area.
 

Namtrooper

Posts: 71   +32
Shoulda done it in the first place.

I'm fortunate to have FIOS here in NYC. Unlike Time Warner Cable (Spectrum) I share no bandwidth with anyone and my speeds are tremendous across all my devices.

They promised me "gigabit" speeds and I'm seeing very close to it or better - regardless the time of day.

Meanwhile, "cable" services are suffering really badly due to the online gaming and Youtube/ video binging.
Online gaming uses probably 1/100th bandwidth of video streaming on average.
Unless your referring to game streaming services.
 
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Uncle Al

Posts: 6,924   +5,211
Sounds more like they are catching up to what was promised back in 1985 when they promised the Federal Regulators anything and everything in order to gain licensing. You travel to most Asian countries and you would see MB speeds 20 years ago. Now days many are using 1 T-bit speeds and few have blind areas with no coverage. What a shame our elected officials are so busy lining their own pockets they forgot who put them into office .....
 
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Yynxs

Posts: 544   +183
TechSpot Elite
You travel to most Asian countries and you would see MB speeds 20 years ago. Now days many are using 1 T-bit speeds and few have blind areas with no coverage. What a shame our elected officials are so busy lining their own pockets they forgot who put them into office .....
Most Asian "countries" you see this high speed availability are cities. The countrysides suffer the same slow access as ours. It's why cell phones are so big everywhere. Data and internet access with a satellite link or P2P relays and a tower and only one point to protect from thieves.
 
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DAOWAce

Posts: 307   +49
Or you could have your ISP be bought out by some French billionaire (Altice) and run into the ground, heavily increasing the price of the service and adding fees that were never there and cutting features.. and not giving anymore free speed increases that were regular occurrences over the years.

Surprised we haven't gotten a notice that our bill is increasing because of the pandemic traffic increase..

Remember, the internet isn't a utility anymore, because net neutrality got revoked. It's still just a 'privilege'.

Thanks Trump and Ajit Pai.
 
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cuerdc

Posts: 203   +51
No mention of all the slowdowns which have been implemented netflix, youtube, amazon, disney, psn, xbox etc.
All the work of server upgrades and extra speed in few weeks which is even worse as highlights how long these companys have been dragging thier feet lining pockets before touching infrastructure.
Although no complaints on my home broadband seems to be working as should even tried out google stadia on pc and plays fine just needs wired connection.
 

daveteauk

Posts: 18   +4
For me, one silver lining that I hope for is that people rediscover that the Internet should be a tool first and an obsession second, the way DARPA and the early pioneers intended. Use it to work, study and stay close in touch with those you can't be with in person. And yes, enjoy all the entertainment it has to offer in moderation. I'm really hoping that when we're all finally allowed to leave our caves that we get to know each other again as people and not just as lines of text.
Who are you to say what the internet SHOULD be used for? Are you the internet Police now?! Early pioneers can have had absolutely no idea what would lay in store for the internet, or what uses it could/would be put to and used for. In these times where we're not allowed outside, the internet should absolutely be used for entertainment, as it's one way to keep us happy and entertained indoors, safeguarding everyone's health/sanity, and I'm sure the pioneers would have welcomed it's use in this way. If there's no discernamble slowdown for 'serious'/medical users, then use it to the fullest I say, that's what it's there for, and what we pay for.
 

opckieran

Posts: 12   +8
Shoulda done it in the first place.

I'm fortunate to have FIOS here in NYC. Unlike Time Warner Cable (Spectrum) I share no bandwidth with anyone and my speeds are tremendous across all my devices.

They promised me "gigabit" speeds and I'm seeing very close to it or better - regardless the time of day.

Meanwhile, "cable" services are suffering really badly due to the online gaming and Youtube/ video binging.
They have much better visibility on what parts of their network need upgrading now that everyone is stuck at home...