BT has reassured customers that its home broadband network has the capacity to cope with any spike in demand caused by the coronavirus.
There have been fears that the UK’s telecommunications structure will struggle under the weight of additional data traffic caused by remote working, school closures and those in self-isolation.
The use of teleconferencing applications, online gaming and streaming services could all increase as a result.
These concerns have been heightened by the fact that Spanish broadband providers have asked their users to ration their usage. For example, large files could be downloaded at non-peak times. This is despite the fact that roughly three quarters of the Spanish population are served via fibre to the premise (FTTP) infrastructure.
This has led to several reports in the British press that the UK’s telecoms infrastructure isn’t up to the task. Large businesses in the UK tend to have dedicated Ethernet or FTTP connections, meaning traffic intended for these networks will instead be carried by home broadband networks. The majority of homes are served by fibre to the cabinet (FTTC) technology that uses copper for the final few metres of the connection.
However in an interview with the FT, BT’s CTIO Howard Watson said the company’s network was designed to cope with high peaks caused by streaming in the evening. He said last week saw a record 17.5Tbps transmitted, caused by two popular video fames and BT Sport’s UEFA Champions League coverage. Normal weekday traffic is between 4-5Tbps, he added.
Telcos in other countries are also taking steps to ease the pressure caused by Coronavirus. In the US, AT&T has removed data caps, while Telefonica has said it will adopt measures such as additional data allowances for mobile users depending on the situation in a particular country.