Network management refers to the activities, methods, procedures, and tools that pertain to the operation, administration, maintenance, and provisioning of networked systems.
As the social distancing efforts push everything from school to socializing into video chat, networks have seen huge surges in traffic — and new anxieties over how digital networks will stand up under the strain. So far, both carriers and the Federal Communications Commission insist that the country’s networks are capable of bearing the strain, particularly given the voluntary throttling instituted by many of the most bandwidth-heavy services.
The many changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have given the world’s communications networks an impromptu stress test. Data demand has surged and shifted. “Peak hour” — the busiest period of the day on a network — now hits at different times and extends for longer durations. Signs of stress have shown up in other parts of the world so Americans have begun asking: Do our networks have the capacity to meet this surge in demand? Here’s the bottom line.
As so many Americans work from home, as our schoolchildren and university students shift to online learning, as virtually all of our social interactions occur online, a fundamental question looms: Will the internet break? The answer is probably not a simple yes or no, and it’s probably not the same answer everywhere in the United States.
Binge-watching in high-def isn’t an act of irresponsibility in a moment of crisis. “The internet as a whole is fine,” agrees Doug Suttles, CEO of the bandwidth-measurement firm Ookla. “It can handle a ton.” Coronavirus-induced traffic during the day still doesn’t exceed the nightly peaks your internet provider should have already designed its systems around.
Home internet and wireless connectivity in the US have largely withstood unprecedented demands as more Americans work and learn remotely. Broadband and wireless service providers say traffic has jumped in residential areas at times of the day when families would typically head to offices and schools. Still, that surge in usage hasn’t yet resulted in widespread outages or unusually long service disruptions, industry executives and analysts say. That is because the biggest increases in usage are happening during normally fallow periods. Broadband consumption during the hours of 9 a.m.
Cisco's Kevin Wollenweber has turned into a COVID-19 sleuth of sorts over the past few weeks as he tracks the virus' impact on service provider networks via some of the major internet peering exchanges. Overall, Wollenweber, Cisco's vice president of service provider networking, said the world's networks are handling the increased traffic related to the coronavirus outbreak well.
How are networks are holding up in the top 200 cities? We’ve compared the median download speeds internet users have been experiencing for the week of March 15th – March 21st to the range of speeds experienced in prior weeks of 2020. Key findings:
Last week, as a wave of stay-at-home orders rolled out across the United States, the average time it took to download videos, emails and documents increased as broadband speeds declined 4.9 percent from the previous week, according to Ookla, a broadband speed testing service.
FCC Policy Advisor Evan Swarztrauber Says Internet Holding Up to Demands for Broadband Connectivity Under Coronavirus
In term of impact on broadband connectivity, “Covid-19 doesn’t even compare to the Superbowl or series finale of Game of Thrones,” said Federal Communications Commission Advisor Evan Swarztrauber. In other words, we're in a "so far, so good" moment: The internet seems to be balancing increased bandwidth demand with supply. Swarzrauber, policy advisor to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, added that more extreme measures to manage internet connectivity are “not necessary at this time,” praising this outcome as “a testament to the strength of the U.S. broadband networks.”
With everyone at home using so much broadband during coronavirus shutdowns, are our networks at risk of being overwhelmed? The short answer is no, according to Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr. Regarding the reduction in streaming quality in Europe by major entertainment companies, Commissioner Carr said, “We don't see any issues like that at all in the U.S. network,” he said. “We've pushed more high capacity spectrum out to wireless providers. And they can turn that out immediately.