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BT suggests network traffic surge is no threat thanks to 17.5 Tbps horsepower

With suggestions telco networks might come under strain over the coming weeks, BT has unveiled the facts and figures of its network to calm fears of homeworkers and parents desperate for peace.

In a blog post, Chief Technology and Information Officer Howard Watson pointed to the capacity which has already been built into the network which powers the majority of broadband networks in the UK.

Interestingly enough, this is the first time a telco has stepped forward to calm fears with facts and figures. Most have simply been stating they would be able to deal with the increased network strain, though rhetoric is nothing compared to the security of hard facts. Hopefully BT’s rivals will follow suit with more detailed information to ease concerns.

“These facts give us confidence that the additional load on the broadband network is well within manageable limits and we have plenty of headroom for it to grow still further,” Watson said.

“But we’re not complacent. We’re monitoring the network closely and collaborating with the other UK networks and content companies. Our Network Operations Centre teams are operating around the clock to identify any issues and resolve them as rapidly as possible. And if more capacity is needed, our engineers are on standby 24/7 to make that happen.”

Watson suggests the BT/Openreach network is built with plenty of ‘headroom’ allowing it to support peak time traffic. The highest peak the network has seen, and dealt with, is 17.5 Tbps driven by videogame updates and streaming football. Normal day time traffic is 5 Tbps, and in recent days, the network has seen a surge in traffic of 35-60%, peaking at 7.5 Tbps. Even if these trends continue, BT is confident its network can stand up to the pressure.

This will come as welcome news, as hanks to the Openreach wholesale business unit, many customers around the UK are dependent on BT for home broadband.

Internet Service Provider Network owner Subscriptions
BT Openreach 9,110,275
Sky Openreach 6,216,219
Talk Talk Openreach 4,680,000
Virgin Media Virgin Media 5,271,000
Vodafone CityFibre 687,000

Statistics curtesy of Omdia’s World Information Series (WIS) – accurate to December 31, 2019

Interestingly enough, roaming traffic is decreasing by roughly 10% a day, down 55% over the last five days, which will ease some of the pressure on mobile networks. More people connecting to wifi routers which will also help the mobile network, while it is also becoming more evenly distributed across the country as less people travel into the urban centres. This is welcome news, but also presents a challenge as less urbanised areas, which are perhaps less resilient, will have to be scaled up.

The resilience and adequacy of the UK’s network will certainly be tested over the coming weeks, though it does appear BT is in a strong position, both in terms of mobile and broadband, to respond accordingly.

  • Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies


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