People in the European Union (EU) have been advised to stay home amid the coronavirus outbreak. This means that there are more people working from home and a lot of younger members of the family like kids are taking tuitions and classes online.
Many of these people are spending more time binging on content from video streaming apps like Netflix and YouTube.
As millions of people in the EU have adopted this work-from-home (WFH) culture so has the internet consumption in each household spiked.
To make sure that the network keeps functioning smoothly, the EU government has asked video-streaming services to limit their high-definition services and shift to providing standard streaming quality.
The Broader Approach
Netflix has acknowledged this move and reduced its streaming rates by 25 percent across Europe. This move came after talks between European Union industry chief Thierry Breton and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.
The government has also advised users to consume internet data judiciously and responsibly.
YouTube hasn’t responded to the government’s call yet but is under pressure to implement the same.
Italy has been the first country to implement a lockdown and it has seen a three-fold increase in the use of video conferencing tools. This bundled with the increase in streaming apps and gaming drove the overall residential data traffic across broadband and mobile networks by almost 75 percent, according to Telecom Italia.
Even big tech companies like Facebook have realised they are struggling with the surge in traffic. According to a report in the Financial Times, company CEO, Mark Zuckerberg told reporters that it was experiencing “surges” in certain services, including a doubling in the use of calls over its WhatsApp and Messenger apps.
Zuckerberg talked about how the usage is on a sustained basis and not like an annual spike it experiences during the holiday season and that it was “a challenge” managing it. He added: “We need to make sure we are on top of this from an infrastructure perspective.”
Mobile Network Usage Peaks
Scott Petty, who is the chief technology officer at Vodafone, which controls both the fixed and the mobile networks used by businesses there said that peak hours in terms of traffic stretched from 12 PM to 9 PM.
He also touched upon streaming platforms like Disney+ gearing up to provide new offers for online movie releases amid the closure of cinema halls.
The Spanish telecom industry has asked its users to ration its internet usage by downloading and streaming during off-peak hours of the day. It has also asked the customers to use old landline phones for voice calls to reduce the traffic on mobile networks which have seen a 50 percent rise in mobile traffic.
A study by internet speed test company Ookla shows that mobile networks in China and Italy have struggled.
In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission( FCC) has allowed local mobile network operators like Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular to temporarily use an additional spectrum to meet the growing broadband demand.