The modern world has increasingly become dependent on the internet, and it seems like businesses, organizations, utilities, and even people cannot function without an internet connection.
COVID-19 has further made this reality more visible. It has transformed the way we use the internet. Can you even imagine the shut-in reality we would have faced if the pandemic was 2 decades ago?
The pandemic has transformed the internet from a luxury to a necessity. It has become critical to economic activities and has become the primary source of connectivity with the outside world for thousands of individuals during pandemic-driven lockdowns. From academic lessons to doctors’ appointments, everything has shifted online. The lockdowns have caused an inevitable surge in digital technology reliance. The world saw an internet surge of 40% during peak global lockdowns, and this web traffic is predicted to double in numbers this year.
The Effects of Internet Surge in COVID-19
Digital surge might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but its changes and effects are most likely to continue in the post-pandemic world. The pandemic has changed every aspect of our lives and our behavior. It has forced us to adapt and even accelerated existing trends like remote work. These changes are long-lasting. Let’s explore some of the areas affected by this change:
As the demand for the internet has increased with more and more people using audio and video conferences for their work, organizations are ramping up their technology infrastructure to keep up with the change. They are investing in bandwidth expansion and cloud leveraging software.
The digital surge has reshaped the health sector. The adoption of the latest technologies and increased internet usage has allowed them to connect with their patients remotely. People can now book doctors’ appointments from their homes and even get a consultation online. Digitization has enabled doctors to screen, track and test the patients without coming into direct contact.
Work from Home
As the world went into lockdown, the internet became the only source of contact with the outside world. The pandemic led to a shift towards people working from homes. This caused an increase in the demand for a stable internet connection. Workers can access the company network via the internet and work conveniently from home. This remote working is now becoming a norm, and the internet has made it possible. Experts are predicting that this trend will continue in the post-pandemic world too.
Increase in Online Frauds
The increased use of the internet has caused cybercrimes to increase. Online frauds, scams, security breaches, and intrusions are ever high. Cybercriminals are taking the pandemic situation as an opportunity to exploit the people around them.Organizations and governments are taking action against these people by implementing strong cybersecurity measures and cybersecurity firms are doing everything they can to fill the security void.
Increased Use of Streaming Apps
With the internet being the sole entertainment option for many individuals during lockdowns, streaming apps have also seen a surge in their traffic by approx 12%. Streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ also experienced an influx of new subscribers, and by June 2020, 48% of adults in the US had subscribed to at least one streaming service.
Even older subscribers started spending more time on these platforms.
Internet Speeds in the US during COVID-19
With the increased web traffic during COVID, internet speeds were expected to decrease, but the results were completely different. According to M-Lab NDT data for Internet Performance, only 5 out of 50 states in the US saw a decrease in internet speed. The US saw an improvement in the internet speed by 35%, with Alaska seeing the highest internet speed improvement; 800%.
It’s not just the US, 30 other countries also reported improved internet speeds.
How are the ISPs Keeping Up with the Surge?
After its largest surge in March and April, internet traffic continues to rise. With more people shifting towards remote working, online learning, and shopping, it has become a new norm. This increased demand has caused internet service providers to adapt most efficiently. America’s top cable providers like Spectrum, AT&T, Frontier, Viasat, HughesNet, Windstream, and EarthLink are handling the situation remarkably.These are some of the strategies that they have adopted to cope with the evolving situation:
COVID-19 led to millions of people going online, and ISPs saw unprecedented increases of up to 50% and 70% globally. Video conferencing is the most preferred mode of meetings now, and as an example, we even saw Microsoft allowing 10,000 to 100,000 users on an Azure Stream.
ISPs have been working hard to ensure uninterrupted quality connections during these challenging times. Some ISPs have extended data caps and others, like Spectrum, offer unlimited data to keep everyone connected. Some ISPs are also looking to further strengthen their network by replacing old infrastructure or using new automation technology. This software-defined networking can help them manage traffic more efficiently.
The demand for residential internet service increased during quarantine, and areas with significantly higher “positive” covid cases saw a boom in broadband subscriptions. Since service providers cannot physically send technicians to visit homes due to stringent SOPs and social distancing norms as per the public health order, they are either relying on hotspots or are providing self-installation options to provide access.
Pandemic has affected people in more ways than one. It has caused financial distress among a diverse group of people, and it’s not just the workforce that has been affected but students too.
ISPs are providing some relief to the affected people in this regard. They are offering discounted plans to students, healthcare officials, and qualified individuals. Some ISPs are even waiving the cost for 60 days on some of their internet plans. As long as you qualify, you can stay connected to the world without having to worry about your financial situation.
The Pandemic has resulted in a dramatic shift in digital usage and has impacted every aspect of our lives. Even with a remarkable internet surge, ISPs have not buckled under its pressure but have risen to the challenge. They are now providing quality services to the customers to meet their every need and making it convenient for more and more families and households to connect with the outside world.