Huge Surge In Usage Won’t Impact Broadband

Thousands of people are being forced to work from home but will power supplies, broadband and mobile phone services cope?

The response from utility firms is a resounding yes – although mobile networks are showing some signs of creaking under the stress of extra usage.

Internet providers have contingency plans in place and are confident that the service can handle extra demand during the day.

So streaming TV, games, video calls and other internet services should carry on regardless.

“Nobody should expect broadband to crash or anything like that,” said Mark Jackson, editor of ISP Review. “That’s not how these things work.”

Slowdown to be expected

“Some slowdown in speed during periods of truly heavy usage is possible. I’d expect this to be fairly limited, and that’s true even in normal times.”

Online gaming has seen a surge in usage as more people look to relieve the boredom of staying at home.

Openreach, which runs much of the UK’s internet infrastructure, said the network is already built to handle peak demand.

“As an example, the Liverpool versus Everton match, which was streamed live by Amazon Prime in December, drove significant peaks in traffic over our network without causing any major issues for our customers,” said a spokesman.

Steam, the world’s largest online PC gaming platform, has hit a new all-time peak with more than 20 million players recorded at once.

Consumption drops

And a further surge is expected when schools close, if the experience in Italy is anything to go by as traffic jumped by 70% when pupils were sent home.

The mobile phone network moves signals around towers depending on capacity at the time.

The networks say the system works and is proved to do so every time the UK has snow or a storm.

Utility firms providing gas and electricity do not anticipate any problems with their vital supplies.

They say they are used to massive spikes in usage and that the system automatically responds with extra capacity.

In Italy, the message seems to be electricity consumption drops when cities go into lockdown, as did the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Much of the reduced consumption comes from factories shutting down energy-hungry heavy plant and machinery.