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.