As panic buying empties supermarkets of essential products in a number of countries, operators and Internet exchanges have also started to raise the alarm about spikes in Internet traffic as people hunker down to "working from home," or watching far too much Netflix.
Spain's network operators issued a joint plea to customers to use telecom networks responsibly following the introduction of more stringent measures to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Telefónica (Movistar), Orange, Vodafone, Masmovil and Euskaltel said they are reinforcing their networks, but pointed out that IP network traffic has increased almost 40% in recent days, while mobile use has increased by about 50% for voice and 25% for data. They have now issued a set of recommendations, including "reserve leisure tools, video games, streaming, live video playback for the off-peak hours."
In France, operators plan to practice "digital discipline" to ensure networks are not overwhelmed by more frivolous uses of network capacity. In Germany, the DE-CIX Internet Exchange in Frankfurt said it reached a new all-time traffic peak of more than 9.1 Tbit/s on the evening of March 10, and said guaranteeing a stable and secure Internet infrastructure is one of its highest priorities.
Operators may also need to reconsider some of the actions they have been taking recently to cash in on higher demand for home entertainment. For example, Telefónica added new features to its entertainment offering, including sports coverage and children's programs – moves that would only encourage further use. At the same time, if operators are able to cope with the spikes in use, then at least their coffers may benefit from the increased demand.
For more on this topic, see:
- Network operators brace for COVID-19 traffic spikes
- Deutsche Telekom CEO warns coronavirus is hitting networks supply chain
- Brits show love for fiber in a time of COVID-19
- Verizon CFO: COVID-19 hasn't affected us... yet
— Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading