Free Internet access a basic human right: Researchers
Internet usage has seen unprecedented surge during the coronavirus outbreak. This is putting an unforeseen strain on networking technologies, requiring more bandwidth, especially during certain hours of the day when there are spikes in traffic as remote workers and students all try to remain productive. Image Credit: Pixabay

The internet is dealing with an unprecedented surge in traffic during the coronavirus lockdown, as millions turn to it for work and entertainment. Total internet hits have gone up by between 50-70 per cent and streaming has swelled by at least 12 per cent.

This is putting an unforeseen strain on networking technologies, requiring more bandwidth, especially during certain hours of the day when there are spikes in traffic as remote workers and students all try to remain productive. Providers have especially taken steps to prepare their networks to adapt and adjust to meet demand.

For example, in the UAE, du announced that it has extended its support of the nation’s distance learning initiative by doubling the internet speed at no additional cost for schools and universities across the country, to ensure no disruption of learning through seamless and uninterrupted connectivity. As federal and private sector employees in the UAE work from home, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said it will deliver necessary infrastructure services to facilitate the remote work system and ensure the security and speed of information.


In a world where social distancing is now the norm, it is the network that makes this possible and keeps people connected to loved ones, friends, colleagues and important services, as well enabling many businesses to continue their operations. More than ever, network connectivity plays a key role in helping the world navigate and overcome the challenge of this global pandemic.

Need of the hour

While some organizations already had different forms of remote working in place, this current situation has caused a surge in remote working and therefore a significant increase in demand for cloud-based tools. People increasingly need access to cloud-based applications that may be hosted in geographically distributed corporate and cloud provider data centers.

Some of the heaviest demand is for collaboration and video conferencing tools such as Zoom, GotoMeeting, and Webex. Students also need access to a variety of online learning applications, including archived and live video, Facetime, augmented/virtual reality, and digital learning content, available through Google Classroom, and others.

Networking technology is essential to enabling the healthcare community, from first responders to hospitals and telemedicine to medical research — to treat patients and work to contain the spread. Additionally, specific applications for remote healthcare may also involve protected customer electronic information over a residential internet connection, which requires VPN connectivity and security.

Keeping up

There is tremendous pressure now on network providers to deliver critical, next-generation connectivity across metro, regional, and submarine networks, mobile networks, internet, and cloud, as well as connectivity for mission-critical verticals.

Some of the changes that we’ve seen in the corporate infrastructure may turn out to be a little more permanent in nature if companies decide to retain those models. This means that the impact of increased bandwidth demands could continue well into the future. Data, video gaming, video streaming and other video applications could add a layer of complexity and pressure to global network infrastructures and the network operators who provide them.

According to OpenVault, consumption for March was projected to reach nearly 400 GB per subscriber, an increase of almost 11 per cent over the previous monthly record of 361 GB, established in January. In addition, OpenVault projects a new run rate of 460 GB per broadband user per month going forward. OpenVault’s research is based on the actual usage of more than one million broadband subscribers through the US.

Digitization for the future

Looking beyond the pandemic, various industries will need to address connectivity to ensure they can operate successfully. For example, in the healthcare sector, an explosive growth in digital medical apps means hospitals will be increasingly reliant on bandwidth to ensure connectivity.

But many healthcare provider networks are still struggling to keep their data infrastructure current with the technologies employed by their hospitals and clinics. Similarly, as more schools adopt digital curriculums, edutech leaders will need to deliver technology infrastructure that supports a rapidly changing learning environment. This unanticipated demand on network infrastructures requires new tools and systems that can quickly adapt to the fastest possible re-allocation of capacity to cope with dynamic changes in bandwidth pressures.

We can therefore expect an increasing reliance on scalable, reliable broadband to make the most of new technologies that support digitization. Network operators will need to move beyond their manually intensive operations, and provide their customers with greater service velocity, agility, and control, to meet their business goals.

- Azz-Eddine Mansouri is General Manager Middle East, Ciena.