The coronavirus: connecting the world @home

As Covid-19 spreads, affecting almost every country in the world, there have been rapid and profound changes in the way we live, work and educate ourselves. A number of countries have enforced home working directives (for those that can), and educational systems around the globe are enabling remote learning applications for distance learning.

Our increasingly connected physical world has undoubtedly accelerated the spread of Covid-19, but connectivity, in a virtual context, is helping to slow it down. By providing the critical foundations of the Internet and enabling the core services that facilitate ubiquitous conferencing, remote working and e-learning, backbone networks like ours enable many people to continue with their jobs and communicate with friends and family, at a safe social distance. Furthermore, the wider Internet ecosystem is playing a pivotal role in allowing people to carry on with their lives –  as far as possible, despite unprecedented restrictions on movement and social interaction.

During recent weeks, we have experienced a significant increase in network traffic, both IP and voice, most notably across our Internet backbone, AS1299. Overall global backbone traffic has risen by more than 10% in a very short space of time, and we have seen as much as 30-40% growth in certain countries and regions. Although web traffic tends to climb during a crisis – as people seek information to educate and assure themselves, this upswing is largely driven by a surge in home working and the use of different conferencing and e-learning applications. Additional traffic is also being generated as more people stay at home, for longer periods of time, streaming content and playing online games – or simply keeping in touch with their nearest and dearest.

For Telia Carrier and many other companies, this has been a true test of home working. More than 90% of my staff are currently homebound, in 20 different countries worldwide. It is often said that people come together at a time of crisis and that a sense of urgency increases focus and execution. This is certainly the case here at Telia Carrier and I am extremely proud of the way my team has pulled together to address the situation at hand. We are all conscious of the vital role we play and our primary focus is to maintain operations and a sufficient level of network capacity to handle unexpected hikes in traffic, safeguarding global communications as a whole.

Apart from managing a dramatic surge in traffic volumes, an instrumental component of Internet functionality is the inter-network connectivity and augmentation of capacity throughout the entire ecosystem. Whilst we are focusing on rapidly turning-up capacity within our own backbone, it is equally important that we secure additional capacity between the different networks that make up the core of the Internet. The Internet is based on collaboration and this challenge is no exception. It is heartening to see that yet again, the network community has come together and is putting operational priorities before vested commercial interests.

We may still have a long way to go before this is all over and there will be further traffic peaks and congestion to manage, but we’re all in it together and you can rest assured that we’re staying focused in these trying times.

As we always say, you can’t predict the future, but you can be ready.

Stay safe.

Staffan Göjeryd
CEO Telia Carrier