Is COVID-19 Affecting Your Internet Connection?

Emeric Brard
on 29 March 2020

As more and more people are staying indoors, global internet activity has significantly increased with people working remotely and trying to pass the time. As a consequence mounting pressure on internet infrastructure is being felt in countries around the world.

KASPR DataHaus, a Melbourne-based alternative data company, conducted a study on the rising internet use around the world and they recently found, using data from 13-14 Feb 2020, that internet latency patterns were experiencing major changes in light of the lock-downs on travel, work, and business.

remote working, internet
Remote working is the way of the future

‘Internet Pressure’ (…) exposes latency, or speed issues, starting to affect millions of internet users across these regions.”

explains Associate Professor Paul Raschky

He continues by saying that a large number of people at home means that an equally large number of people are spending their time online which is likely leading to bandwidth congestion. He uses the analogy of a packed subway station. If the station has too many people, it is likely that for the majority it will take longer to get to their destination since not everyone can fit in at once.

Our internet connection functions in a similar way, “Your streaming video or video upload during teleconferencing is made up of thousands of small packets of information; these packets need to find their way down copper and fibre-optic cables across vast distances. The more streaming packets trying to make the journey at once, the more congested the pathway, and the slower the arrival time.”

Researchers were also able to pinpoint which countries’ internet was suffering the most as a result of home-based entertainment, video-conferencing, and communication taking place online. This is what they found.

internet, WiFi, COVID-19

“In most OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries affected by COVID-19, the internet quality is still relatively stable. Although regions throughout Italy, Spain and somewhat surprisingly, Sweden, are showing signs of strain,”

said Dr. Raschky

As shown above, Iran is the nation that is currently experiencing the most pressure and it is likely severely affecting user experience, although this may simply be part of Iran’s government regime who are intentionally slowing the internet down to avoid the spreading of COVID-19 misinformation.

But what about Australia?

As of now, Australia is looking stable, despite the shift to online-learning and remote working. But even though the majority of schools remain open and people are still going into work, states like the ACT, South Australia, and Victoria are starting to feel the pressure.

“The signs for now in Australia are ‘steady’, but not entirely reassuring,”

said Dr Raschky

With lockdown laws and social distancing guidelines potentially ramping up in the coming days and weeks, Australia may feel the full effects of the stay-at-home movement as their internet connection starts to take a hit.

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