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Telefónica sees big spike in Internet traffic due to COVID-19

Telefónica, like many operators, has been experiencing unprecedented demand for home broadband services, and latest figures reveal just how much working from home is affecting Internet traffic.

The operator said Internet traffic growth on its fixed network in the month between the start of the coronavirus crisis and Sunday April 12 was equivalent to that of a whole (normal) year. In fact, traffic rose by 35% in the month, compared to the 30% accumulated growth that the company usually records over a period of 12 months.

Telefónica explained that it typically has to deal with peaks of around 25% in the last four months of a year, as people return from summer holidays, the weather worsens and the build-up to Christmas begins. Thus a 35% spike in one month is somewhat exceptional. The Easter holidays were partly responsible for this, with an upturn in the use of some services such as gaming, and mobile and fixed voice and data.

The use of videoconferencing tools dropped during the Easter holidays and recovered by the end of the week, while Internet traffic from businesses dropped considerably during this period, Telefónica said. Voice traffic on the Movistar mobile network continued to be much higher than normal levels before the crisis. On April 12, voice usage was 53% higher than pre-crisis values.

The operator is noting one very distinctive aspect of the crisis: Traffic is dropping every day at 8 p.m., "when Spanish people take to balconies to applaud the country's heroic health workers."

Early on in the crisis, Telefónica committed to a number of measures in response to the coronavirus crisis, including promoting remote working for all employees in Spain, placing special emphasis on those staff members with school-age children and on vulnerable groups; increasing the data allowance for its Fusion and Movistar customers; beefing up its online learning platforms; and making its services available to public administration and healthcare organizations.

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— Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

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