March 23, 2020
COVID-19 is proving to be a particularly effective test of networks worldwide. Early research by Nokia's Deepfield network intelligence, analytics and DDoS security unit indicates they are coping pretty well at a time when record peaks in network traffic are occurring on a daily basis.
The Finnish vendor analyzed data from several networks in western Europe starting from the week of March 9, 2020, when a number of countries imposed strict lockdown measures. It comes as little surprise that use of messaging applications and streaming services has increased exponentially in the past two weeks. Indeed, the rates of growth are eye-wateringly high in some cases.
WhatsApp traffic on what Nokia terms "Day 1" and "Sunday 1" (the Sunday of the first weekend) of the lockdown fully demonstrates the impact of confinement measures. On "Sunday 1," WhatsApp traffic increased by a whopping 500% compared to the previous week.
Figure 1: Source: Nokia
Netflix is also proving to be a welcome distraction from lockdown woes, and it seems that people are binge-watching TV series even earlier than usual. The overall increase of traffic during the day ranged from 97% in the morning to 27–42% in the early afternoon. However, volumes rose between 54% and 75% (in terms of peak viewing hours) compared with the previous weekend.
Figure 2: Source: Nokia
Figure 3: Source: Nokia
For all the latest news from the 5G sector, check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on Light Reading. Overall traffic on Day 1 increased between 30% (5 p.m.) and 80% (9 a.m.), with boosts between 50% and 70% for most of the day. Weekend 1 Sunday traffic rose between 34% and 97% during the day. Figure 4: Source: Nokia Figure 5: Source: Nokia Craig Labovitz, chief technology officer for Nokia Deepfield, said the good news is that networks "were able to absorb this peak without degrading the quality of service. The bad news is that this may be a new trend. The future will tell." Indeed, networks may be performing well for now, but some operators could yet become a victim of this rapidly spreading virus. As Nokia pointed out, networks "were designed to grow that much in a year, not in days." (See Broadband is not immune to COVID-19.) For more on this topic, see: Australian government asks streaming companies to throttle NBN traffic ITU draws up emergency plans to tackle COVID-19 Netflix to cut streaming bit rates across Europe for 30 days Could COVID-19 supercharge operators' telecom and 5G investments? Podcast: Five ways COVID-19 is affecting the telecom industry right now — Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading
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