Broadband News

Press claims that COVID-19 will break UK broadband networks are scaremongering

Stories about events breaking the Internet are a regular staple of the tabloid press and to date the Internet has survived. So now that the COVID-19 virus outbreak is potentially heading towards a point where lots of large and small firms will have people working the idea that the UK broadband network will not cope is doing the rounds.

I doubt that the core network can cope if even tens of thousands of people who work in the City of London are forced to work from home and need access to video conferencing and trading systems.

Professor Izzat Darwazeh, Chair of Communications Engineering at University College London talking to The Telegraph

The idea that just a few tens of thousands working from home will bring the core of the UK broadband system to its knees is something we do not agree with. The reason why we don't think it will all fall apart is that things like remote working is not the bandwidth hog some would like us to think and as someone who has worked from home, remote fields, hotels around the globe, airports, trains and coffee shops I do have experience in this field. Stock trading is a latency sensitive application and as such is not unlike the requirements of online gamers without the massive multi Gigabit patches every week or month. In terms of video conferencing, while some companies might run large meetings the data use is never going to approach the demands that Netflix et all make on the UK broadband infrastructure.

Monitoring by LINX of the traffic levels across its peering LANs will give a good insight of how the core UK network is handling everything. Of course it is possible that some individual providers may see more localised congestion and slower speeds at peak times, but for now that peak time remains the evenings.

The possibility of the UK having to remotely work over the next few months has led to questions about the ability of ISPs to handle the additional workload of employees working from their homes.

ISPs are ready to handle any potential extra bandwidth and consistently assess the demands that are being put on their networks. Businesses and companies will need to ensure that their own systems, e.g. their server setup, support a potentially significant increase in remote connections to accommodate the potential increase in traffic from their employees.

Andrew Glover, Chair of the Internet Services Providers’ Association

The bigger problem will be battles in the home if some are trying to get work done and others are trying to game or binge a boxset and one persons usage is impacting on another persons. The way to resolve this is to ensure that the person working is using Ethernet to connect to their broadband router and if the broadband is slow that a timetable for work hours is set to avoid conflict.

The more pressing concern will be around security and how companies who have not already embraced homeworking will handle things, i.e security of the corporate network, data and any devices employees are taking home.


Yes it only takes a moment's pause to realise networks "cope" with Saturdays and LINX, CDNs etc. don't much care whether a person is at home or at work.

The only relevant net element is whether an organisation is geared up for more than say 33% of its workers to access data remotely from home in terms of the org's own Internet connection and VPN or equivalent capacity compared with internally over the LAN.

Larger orgs likely have remote workers connecting to a data centre rather than traditional HQ.

Issuing enough work-managed devices rather than a shared family PC would be my priority.

  • prlzx
  • 8 months ago

Stock trading is only really latency sensitive for the high frequency stuff which takes place from specialist servers in data centres and will continue to do so even if people are working from home. Sometimes people just talk out their backside.

  • jabuzzard
  • 8 months ago

Given that working from and online meetings/conferencing will increase, if anything the Internet just became more used, and more useful.

I imagine the giant sporting events have tested capacities more than any other up to now, and while this might cause a blip, it'll be more a 9 to 5 thing.

Furthermore, those who would have used the Internet in the office, but now use it from home aren't actually changing the overall load.

  • camieabz
  • 8 months ago

Ahh, I dread the annual internet meltdown between Christmas and new year, when the young'uns run the data rivers dry with their Shapchatting, Netflixing and Callofdutying.

Oh wait. I must have dreamt that.

  • Cessquill
  • 8 months ago

It all depends what kind if cheap, bandwidth limited network you are on :)
I will wait for all the people whose much loved certain major provider goes down to find how bad the support is!

  • comnut
  • 8 months ago

Didn't LINX go down last week because the latest free to play call of duty game got downloaded by so many people? oh yes, that did happen didn't it!

  • buggerlugs
  • 8 months ago

I can only say that the speed given by my speed test is low, about 40% of the usual value! 19Mbs cf 38Mbs

  • bsg017
  • 7 months ago

Sorry, those numbers should be 18MBS and 48Mbs! Lowest previously was about 44Mbs on this BT service.

  • bsg017
  • 7 months ago

I'm getting 98mbps down out of the usual 280mbps (rated at 362) on my virgin media line.

  • nominator
  • 7 months ago

12hours after my previous post this morning, I am getting about 35Mbs down. Interestingly the upload speed does not appear to have been affected at about 9Mbs.

  • bsg017
  • 7 months ago

Mobile broadband speed has slowed a bit at peak times here, from about 120Mbs to 50-100Mbs on Three. BT fttc is pretty much unchanged though.

  • keith969
  • 7 months ago

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