Clearcable Observes an Increase in Network Traffic During the Pandemic

April 6, 2020

General

Hamilton, ON – The World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General announced on March 11, 2020 that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a global pandemic.

As people across North America isolated themselves and their families at home, Clearcable observed an immediate increase in internet usage. As the month moved on, the trend stabilized in the range of 25% net increase.

For quite some time, Clearcable has observed that the influence of Netflix as the major driver of traffic across networks has diminished. We tend to see however that in most markets today 90% of the traffic is driven by the Top Ten sources in that specific market. The Top Ten is different from market to market, but we observe the common recurrence of a specific six – Facebook, Apple, Akamai, Amazon, Netflix, and Google. Together, these sources regularly account for almost three quarters of the traffic during peak day peak time. In a representative cross section of geographies, we would expect to see Google and Akamai sharing the top spot around 17% each, Netflix and Facebook contending for the next spot between 13-14%, and Amazon and Apple accounting for roughly 6% each.

Attributing the spike in network traffic to the top video streaming services, led to calls from major ISP’s throughout North America for streaming providers to reduce the bit rate of their content. Most streaming services complied. For example, Netflix announced a 25% reduction in their video profiles.

But that may not be the whole story. Many school districts introducing e-learning and the bigger trend toward work from home is shifting traffic into the traditionally off-peak day time and physical distancing measures are driving folks to virtual meetups and live streaming concerts. The weeks ahead will be uncharted territory for Internet consumption and Clearcable will continue to closely monitor network traffic as the pandemic continues. Stay tuned and Be Safe!