Challenges Ahead: Coronavirus Impact on Internet Service Providers

The advent of Coronavirus from China has set the whole world into an unprecedented state. People across the globe are witnessing two different sides of a story. On one hand, the pandemic has shut down the physical offline market operations in nearly all parts of the world due to imposed lock-downs by the respective governments of these states, on other hand, it has resulted in a never before resurgence of Internet traffic.

Now, many of us would suggest the fact that Coronavirus impact on Internet service providers would be positive as more people from their houses would attend their academic, business and social affairs online. But there are no less challenges ahead as these Internet service providers are required to effectively manage this massive traffic that has surged online like never before.

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Is it truly a situation to panic?

The usage of Internet has raised up to 50% in certain parts of the world. It has been reported by some of the remote-work ISP platforms that they are struggling to keep up with the increased demand for uninterrupted bandwidth. But they are also assuring the customers that it can be improvised effectively as there is enough capacity within the networks.

The demands associated with the online services have skyrocketed due to the fact that right from the physical education lessons at school to the appointments of the doctors, are now performed by the users from their living rooms, kitchens and home offices. Another demand which has increased drastically with service providers is for VPN access. Considering the present Covid-19 threat, organizations have made Work from Home a mandate across all employees. The most secured option for employees working from home is the VPN (Virtual Private Network) connection. The services are used for the prolonged hours and that is what bothers many users regarding the uncertainties of the future. Well, is it truly a time to panic? Well the answer is No!

Internet will not Break Anytime Soon, Say Experts

Telecom and Internet services giant, Vodafone has responded to the speculations regarding the impact of Coronavirus on Internet service providers. The company that operates in over 65 countries says that the data traffic has increased by 50% in some of the markets but the company is fully prepared to handle the traffic in the most efficient manner.

According to tech news website The Register, there are a number of online working platforms such as Microsoft Teams and video conference platforms like Zoom that are struggling with the user demands. But the sharp hike in the user demand will not break the Internet anytime soon. They are confident enough in their statement because communication transmission portals are capable of handling the best and the worst form of traffic and shift the broadband bandwidth flow accordingly.

But the impact of coronavirus on mobile internet service providers tells a different story. It is basically because their plans and packages come up with limited data per day basis and due to heavy rush of people online, the download speeds have declined across several Asian countries since January 2020. The speed over fixed broadband lines is faring much better.

Rising to the Challenge

The European commission has taken the note of the increasing traffic over the Internet due to teleworking, e-learning and entertainment purposes. The commission has called the network operators, streaming service providers and users to prevent network congestion. The streaming operators are advised to offer standard streaming instead of high definition and users are requested to apply the data settings that can curtail data consumption. Adhering to the request, Netflix has reduced the quality of video streaming by 25% in order to curtail the load on European networks.

Vodafone has offered giving additional network capacity in the sensitive zones like hospitals in the UK.

In order to reduce the impact of Coronavirus on Internet service providers in the United States, Comcast has opened a network of Wi-Fi hotspots and made them accessible free for consumers and non customers alike. It has also scrapped data caps and leniently handling the late payment of bills.

Challenge for the Third World Countries

The case is not the same in all parts of the globe. There are many countries in the developing third world such as Bangladesh, Estonia, and parts of Africa where there is no adequate infrastructure to handle this increase in demand. Most of the mobile networks in these countries are still running over decades-old 2G, meanwhile wired or wireless Internet connections are certainly far from ubiquitous. It is a real challenge that makes the prospect of working from home a remote one. We hope an adequate solution is derived for the masses of these economically weak countries before the pandemic strikes them in a real way!

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