Lockdown Impact: Internet Consumption Skyrockets As People Stay Home

With scores of cities being locked down to arrest the spread of Covid-19, infrastructure of telecom and internet service providers has started to clog as consumption of data in the last few weeks has grown at a level generally witnessed by operators over a period of two years.

Just within the last two weeks, internet service providers have seen a 40 percent increase in traffic on their networks, with the numbers inflating on a daily basis.

This has led to telecom players reaching out to video streaming platforms like Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Hotstar to rationalise their services to ease the pressure on telecom networks. “This sudden surge in digital use is already putting pressure on the network infrastructure of the Telecom Service Providers (TSPs). The TSPs are taking requisite steps to manage this load and facilitate the smooth functioning of the networks during this critical time,” COAI said in a letter to the video streaming platforms.

“We understand that there are various measures that the streaming platform companies can undertake in this present situation to continue to provide a suitable level of service to their customers at the most appropriate bitrate required, one such measure being temporarily moving to SD (Standard Definition) rather than HD (High Definition) streaming,” it added.

Responding to the telecom companies, streaming platforms including Amazon Prime and Hotstar have began to optimise their bitrates to have them in line with the strained telecom networks. In addition to video streaming platforms, work from home policies adopted by corporates have led internet traffic to rise to unprecedented levels as evident from the information made available by internet exchanges of India.

On March 18, Mumbai Internet Exchange — pegged to be the largest one in India — saw peak traffic of 2.45 terabits per second. On March 26 last year, the traffic peak on the exchange was at 772.60 gigabits per second, or nearly a third of what it has been this year.

Telecom service providers use internet exchanges to connect to content delivery networks (CDNs) and much of the data that is consumed by users, flows through these internet exchanges. CDNs are platforms that do not operate on public internet and do not interact directly with the consumer. They are essentially a system of servers deployed at geographical proximity to the internet service provider and are used by content companies to distribute their content.

Globally, too, content service providers including Netflix, Facebook and Disney have downgraded video quality on their platforms to ease the pressure on the internet infrastructure.

Meanwhile, telecom operators in India, including state-owned BSNL and MTNL and private company Reliance Jio have offered free data packs to their fixed broadband customers to support work from home.

—Indian Express

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