As schools and colleges around the UAE are shut and more and more employees in the country take to a work-from-home schedule, internet speed is coming under pressure. Image Credit: Pixabay

Dubai: As schools and colleges around the UAE are shut and more and more employees in the country take to a work-from-home schedule to counter the growing coronavirus threat around the world, it has obviously taken a toll on internet connectivity and speed — particularly home internet.

Etisalat, one of the two telecom providers in the UAE, said it is actively assessing its network to manage the expected increase in bandwidth and mobile network demand. The company said it expects overall data traffic on its network to “surge exponentially” as more people self-isolate and work from home.

“Etisalat recently increased its local network capacity while also boosting its international data capacity to [provide] all customers with the best possible experience ...” a statement said.

Meanwhile, du said it will be doubling the internet speed at no additional cost for schools and universities across the country to ensure students will have a smooth experience with online classes.

In terms of infrastructure, a sales executive from Atlas Telecom, a group that specialises in communications technology, said the UAE’s networks are prepared to handle the surge in demand.

“There is obviously a slim chance that there could be issues because a lot of people are going to be working from home using many different programmes and applications, so there’s going to be a lot of bandwidth usage. But it all depends on how much bandwidth we’re talking about,” the executive told Gulf News, pointing that the UAE’s investments over the years in building up its networks will come in handy.

Despite that, challenges persist.

The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) warned on Tuesday that the current circumstances can increase the vulnerability of financial institutions to cyberattacks, phishing attempts and fraud. The authority called on companies in Dubai’s International Financial Centre to use its Cyber Threat Intelligence Platform to enhance their cybersecurity.

And it’s not just in the UAE where there are concerns about cybersecurity. Data from Atlas VPN shows that the usage of VPNs across the world has surged since an ever-increasing number of people started going into quarantine due to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to latest data, in the past two weeks alone, VPN usage jumped by 124 per cent in the United States and 160 per cent in Italy. The increase comes as more companies use VPNs to protect proprietary information while their employees work remotely and from different devices.

Atlas VPN said in a report that not only did the number of people using a VPN increase, but the frequency and the time of connection increased as well. It pointed out that as new cities report cases of coronavirus infections, VPN usage in these locations increases as quarantines are enforced.