Myths and Truths about the Internet in COVID Times
During the health emergency caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Internet traffic in Latin America increased between 24% to 35%. The system supported the demand thanks to the forecasts already prepared by access providers, and regional IXPs (physical infrastructure where Internet service operators exchange traffic) noted that the greatest increase was due to e-learning (education), on-demand video streaming services, online gaming, and electronic money transactions.
Likewise, all countries maintained their peak consumption hours after 7:00 p.m., although Internet traffic rose significantly during the network’s previously idle daytime hours. In this sense, the pandemic led to the coexistence of different information and data consumption habits (on-demand video and real-time audio and video communications). Experts stressed that the network successfully sustained both types of demand.
The above are some of the conclusions that a group of Internet professionals reached during the online panel organized by LACNOG titled Myths and Truths about the Internet in Latin America in COVID Times.
The experiences collected by the technical community and discussed during the webinar show that the region has exhibited a stable behavior during this health emergency in which the Internet has taken on a leading role. LACNOG Chair Ariel Weher moderated the panel, which was made up by Israel Rosas (ISOC), Carlos Martinez (LACNIC), Hugo Salgado (DNS), Gabriel Adonaylo (LAC-IX), Nicolas Antonello (ICANN), Carmen Denis (LACNOG) and Lia Solis (LACNOG).
Ten Myths. The experts’ analysis sought to find answers to a series of ten myths. The first myth — “The Internet is congested” — was quickly refuted. Antoniello pointed out that traffic is not congested thanks to the fact that all Internet players had anticipated the increase in the numbers that occurred during the pandemic. “The increases have not exceeded the predictions,” Antoniello said, adding that the domain name systems are prepared for this type of circumstances.
In turn, Solís stressed that operators have applied proper traffic growth forecast policies.
For Martínez, traffic demand has not grown. Instead, there has been a shift within the network. “Traffic has moved from business networks to residential networks. Providers should be quite capable of handling a 30% growth,” he said.
The second myth — “The increase in Internet traffic is affecting IXPs” — found an answer in Adonaylo’s presentation. Adonalylo stressed the stability of the Internet exchange points in the region, with a behavior very similar to that in Europe. “Services are responding with telecommuting and home schooling. Among IXPs, we’ve seen an increase of between 30% and 35%, in addition to very interesting initiatives as a consequence of the pandemic that have generated stability and contribute to Internet health in the countries of the region,” said Adonaylo.
As for the third myth — “The increase in Internet traffic is affecting last-mile providers” — Antoniello noted that this could only occur in the event that a provider has not anticipated any increase in the bandwidth for the final leg of each connection. Martinez observed that the perception is that the last mile is affected, when the issues actually have to do with the wi-fi device used in each household. “This can be a problem if we do not care and feed our wi-fi devices, but this is happening inside the households and not in the final connection,” said LACNIC’s CTO.
Speaking about the fourth myth — “The increase in Internet traffic is affecting providers at the backbone level”— Martinez pointed out that the backbone is the place where the traffic demands of every user converge. “Traffic is moving along the networks, but the figures are nothing that has not been imagined or anticipated. Any provider knows that their demands will increase by more than 30% during the year; what they did was to shorten their horizons from 12 to 18 months,” Martinez added.
Regarding myth number five — “The service is failing because employees cannot solve problems due to the pandemic” — Rosas said that the issues reported during the health emergency have not generated any new problems. He even highlighted the fact that certain networks are experiencing fewer problems. “No issues are being reported that exceed the operators’ response capability,” said Rosas.
We invite you to watch the video to review the highlights of the discussions and listen to the panelists’ comments on myths number 6 (“It is better to use landlines for voice communications”), 7 (“It is better to use SMS and not WhatsApp for instant messaging”), 8 (“The limitations on video quality imposed on Netflix and other on-demand video streaming providers benefitted providers”), 9 (“On-demand audio and video streaming services have the same impact on networks as real-time audio and video communication services), and 10 (“Internet service providers can absorb the costs and not charge for the service during the pandemic”).
The full video is available here .