The coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak is driving the world crazy. Due to the increased number of work from home individuals, internet traffic has gone through the roof recently, with many activities moved online. From working to commerce, recently education, and the internet is now the main channel used by the government to deliver updates on the ongoing crisis.
As a result, there is an upsurge in the number of concurrent internet users, which is driving the internet infrastructure crazy.
“… the internet is being used at a scale that the world has never experienced,” says the CEO of Akamai Technologies Tom Leighton.
Some regulators, ISPs, and content providers have had to take drastic measures to reduce the load on internet infrastructure during peak hours to prevent a stalemate.
Microsoft has recently announced that they will throttle OneNote, SharePoint, and Stream video conferencing features to ensure the rest of Office 365 services stay afloat.
In the EU, many content providers have been urged to switch to Standard Definition (480p) to cope up with the situation.
So far, Netflix, YouTube, Facebook & Instagram, Disney Plus have all reduced the streaming quality in the region to ease the strain on the internet infrastructure.
YouTube, however, has been the first company to apply such restrictions around the world, defaulting streaming to 480p, but a user might change to their liking.
The gaming industry has also seen a spike in the usage numbers. Last week, Xbox and Nintendo experienced downtimes, as a result. While on the other hand, Steam, a video game digital distribution service, reported a big leap in the number of concurrent users to a record 20 million.
Gaming specifically is a bandwidth-heavy activity, leave alone the game themselves, which have increasingly become bigger. For instance, the new Call of Duty: Warzone battle royale game weighs 80GB.
In response to the increase in traffic, especially from the gaming industry, Akamai, the world’s largest content delivery network, is working with Microsoft, Sony, and other players in the gaming industry to reduce congestion during peak hours.
Akamai says game downloads account for large chunks of internet traffic at times when updates are seeded out. To put it into perspective, a single update on a modern game generates traffic equal to whopping 30,000 webpages.
So the gaming industry, majorly, together with other content providers, has a vital role to play to help ease traffic congestion.
Microsoft says they have seen record usage numbers across Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Live, and Mixer. As a result, the company is imposing necessary temporary adjustments to ensure gamers continue to have play games smoothly, according to Dave McCarthy, Corporate Vice President, Xbox Product Services.
Sony, on the other hand, says, “Players may experience somewhat slower or delayed game downloads,” Jim Ryan, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO, wrote in a blog post.
Akamai will reduce gaming software downloads during peak hours and remove the restrictions late at night.
Will Coronavirus Break the Internet?
The internet has a vast amount of resources and is not going to break anytime soon despite the spikes, tech firms believe so. The only thing that can overwhelm the internet is the spike in usage numbers at a particular time.
Arguably, the number of internet users stays the same and is not increasing, which has given ISPs and other tech firms confidence that the available capacity can handle the traffic.