BEREC says COVID-19 won’t break the internet

BEREC has released a statement which suggests the increase in internet usage across the continent is more or less stabilising, though networks did manage to stand up to the strain.

It might seem like a ridiculous idea now, but during the first few days there were worries the dramatic shift in behaviour would place dangerous levels of pressure on the fixed and mobile networks. The latest statement from the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) does not appear to be worried any more:

“30 national regulatory authorities (NRAs) have shared their data on the impact of the crisis on the telecommunications’ networks and the actions taken so far. Since the last week, many NRAs reported a stabilisation in the overall traffic, but some NRAs still observe an increase of the overall traffic.

“According to the available information, some operators have increased their network’s capacity to cope with the sustained traffic growth. Operators, which did not take any such measure, are still closely monitoring their network’s capacity to check if an upgrade is necessary.”

There are still surges in traffic, though on the evidence available thus far, networks are able to stand up to the pressure.

In Italy, Vodafone suggested traffic on its fixed network has increased 50% while Telecom Italia blamed a 70% surge on more people playing Fortnight and Call of Duty. The Italian networks did not perform as well as under normal circumstances, but customers were able to do as they please, from a digital perspective at least.

Although the telcos might not have welcomed the stress which came with the dramatic shift in network usage, it is a useful test.

“There have been many bold predictions made about the future in recent weeks,” said Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri. “My hunch is that things will broadly go back to how they were before this crisis began. But trends and technologies that were already happening will speed up. So more remote working and video conferencing will increase the need for better connectivity.”

Remote working and mobility were two trends which were slowly emerging thanks to better connectivity in the digital economy, but coronavirus might have acted as an accelerator. Some companies will go back to the pre-COVID-19 normality, but others will see the benefits of remote and flexible working, holding onto at least some of the enforced changes.

Networks are holding strong, some even boast of leftover headroom, though events of today might see the evolution of the workforce alter the demands on connectivity.

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