CORONAVIRUS – CAN THE INTERNET TAKE THE STRAIN?
As we hear about school closures, public transport cancellations or even a potential lockdown, many employees are being encouraged to work from home. Coronavirus (Covid-19) raises the question as to whether the internet can take the strain.
HOW CAN THE INTERNET MEET THE EXTRA DEMAND?
Coronavirus is already bringing about significant changes to our working habits. The IT and telephony we rely on to do our jobs will come under extra strain. Can the web handle it? Britain’s telecom and internet providers are bracing themselves for a potential surge in data consumption, as many more people stay at home during the coronavirus crisis. Vodafone says it is experiencing a 30% rise in internet traffic across its UK fixed-line and mobile networks. TalkTalk, another internet provider, reports that its daytime network traffic has risen 20% in a matter of days.
THE CHALLENGE OF COVID-19 – CAN THE SYSTEM STAND IT?
Probably yes – just about. BT’s chief technology officer, Howard Watson, has said: “We have more than enough capacity in our UK broadband network to handle mass-scale homeworking.” The biggest change is likely to be in the pattern of usage. Normally the peak period is in the evening, when up to ten times more bandwidth is used than in the daytime. This is bound to change as the working population gets online during the day. They will be making phone calls, looking at emails and managing their spreadsheets (it won’t just be for Netflix and Youtube).
Where some minor disruption may occur is in residences and neighbourhoods still served by lower bandwidth cable and old copper-wire connections. These older connections, using ADSL or ISDN, are due to be phased out in 2026. They will be replaced with faster, more reliable fibre optic cabling. The new cabling increases capacity and upgrades an ageing system that is creaking under the strain.
WHAT ABOUT BUSINESS USERS?
To prepare for this change many businesses have already moved to IP Virtual Private Networks (VPNs). VPNS allow access to various data technologies across multiple locations or users. Employees can remotely access the company network through a secure internet connection. Many already do this to make calls or access their work. The system is entirely scalable. Companies can increase, decrease, allocate or prioritise bandwidth according to capacity requirements.
The importance of a solid digital infrastructure has never been highlighted more acutely than it is right now. Likewise the value of a world-class telecoms partner has rarely been greater. Companies like Clarion Communications provide a full support service to any business looking to set up a VPN or any other hosted telephony requirement.