Updated: May 15, 2020
How has COVID-19 pandemic affected the global internet infrastructure?
The Internet is struggling, and we have a good idea on the real culprit; COVID-19. Easy it is to play the blame game, but we are partially to blame, for not being ready. While it is true that video streaming is the most culpable reason, even gaming to a certain extent; one cannot seriously expect much of a system so easily burdened just by home working initiatives and lockdowns around the world in the face of this pandemic. There are seven billion people on this planet, and it appears that our internet infrastructure is not ready for everyone to get on board. If everyone has a smartphone right now, the entire system slows down, and they blame Facebook, Twitter and most social media platform. The fault lies in the infrastructure itself, how can we not suspect something so frail? Is it because of technology limitations? Or are we a victim of maximized profits? Conspiracy theories aside, blaming Netflix and Youtube is unreasonable. Videos are now streaming in higher resolution, and it is only a matter of time before bandwidth requirements increase even more. Countries slowly lifted out of poverty, internet connections are becoming faster in developing regions of the world, and people better equipped to explore the internet world use it more often than before. Which results in more video views, if we look at the billions of views South America's music has, with bars in Cuba using YouTube for their musical playlist. This could be an indicator of what we can expect from other developing nations, especially those who are fresh out of war.
Data for one country does not reflect the data in another. In the image above marked 'US Traffic', we can see the services which use most of the bandwidth and if you combine Netflix and Youtube, that is more than half. This chart, however, does not reflect the rest of the world, since Netflix is much more popular in the United States than the rest of the world. Every country is a unique niche, and we are not trying to take the blame away from Netflix or Youtube (parent company Google). Google, Netflix, Amazon and Facebook will most definitely start laying their underground sea cables or fund Elon Musk's ambitious Satellite internet infrastructure named Starlink.
The world is beginning to realize the benefits of homeworking and modernize at a much faster rate than before. Infrastructure has been slow to keep up, look at the railway system, for example. Are the passengers in India and Japan really to blame for trains being full? We may see the rise of Artificial Intelligence services and even higher resolution 8K video in the next decade to come, so time wasted in trying to figure out who should be paying for the infrastructure. Infrastructure has always been a government initiative and allowing private organizations to take charge of it only encourages manipulation.
The internet is slowing down; you can feel it. It is not in your router, or your computer, or your ISP, people are using it. We are using it as we write this article. These are all organic behaviours, and we need to realize that. Just like hospitals around the world may need to start preparing more once COVID-19 is over, we need more internet infrastructure. And no, we are not touting 5G here, just like more roads, we are recommending more dense infrastructure starting with the increase of underwater internet cables around the world.
Thank you for reading 'Internet burden of COVID-19 pandemic' article by IT Block. IT Block is an IT support services provider in SIngapore and a registered Google New Source.