COVID-19 Could Take Down the Internet

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11.4.2020 | COVID-19 Could Take Down the Internet

Pushing the Data Limits

The telecom infrastructure risk is far from critical, in the view of some industry insiders. However, some of the largest networks and video streaming providers outside the U.S. are taking steps to lessen traffic volume and unthrottled access to the Internet. Those reactions raise questions about the health of the Internet elsewhere.

For example, content providers in Europe, Asia and India are taking steps to mitigate any potential Internet crashing. Netflix, Google, Apple and Amazon have begun to restrict HD video streaming to reduce data usage in Europe.

Video-streaming services account for more than 60 percent of global Internet traffic, based on reports.

Netflix is reducing bit rates across all its streams in Europe for 30 days, a Netflix spokesperson said. Netflix comprises 12 percent of online bandwidth around the world.

Google subsidiary YouTube is managing an estimated 1 billion hours of content viewed every day. Google temporarily reduced all YouTube video streaming in the EU to standard definition by default.

Amazon has taken similar measures with its Prime Video service to ensure it can handle the increased demand.

Most commercial businesses are set up to deal with 10 percent of the workforce working from home and government departments less than 1 percent. The sudden change to near 100 percent of the workforce remote-working puts incredible strain on the limited VPN terminals available, explained Kilsby.

They simply can not reach the applications they need in order to do their day-to-day jobs. Breaks in data consistency are causing slowdowns in service or stopping them altogether, he added.

That causes data inconsistency. If workers are unable to reach their vital systems, the continuity of the business will break down, as people are then not billed, suppliers don't get paid, and business critical calculations do not add up. This leaves businesses with no choice other then to slow services drastically or stop them altogether.

The gravest consequence is when this happens to organizations we all truly depend on -- such as power, water, emergency services and food. It is vital business continuity is not disrupted.

Both businesses and consumers share a stake in how stable the Internet remains, he added. A variety of new streaming services are set to launch between now and May -- including NBCUniversal's Peacock, WarnerMedia's HBO Max, and Quibi. There undoubtedly will be a lot of pressure on networks to serve up the latest original content without issue.


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