Homebound Workers Close to Overwhelming Internet Junctions

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(Bloomberg) -- With so many workers videoconferencing from home -- while their children stream videos and play Fortnite -- the internet is creaking at the seams, according to Nokia Oyj.

The junctions between different internet networks are close to being overwhelmed, the Finnish telecom equipment company said in a weekly report seen by Bloomberg News.

“Globally, service providers are starting to see the increased strain and are approaching the capacity on some peering links and edge routers,” Nokia said.

But don’t panic yet: Operators can sidestep major jams and outages by rapidly upgrading equipment and adding components at these bottlenecks, according to the company, which likened it to a supermarket hiring more cashiers for busy times.

“They can add more capacity, which is easily done,” Nokia said. “Networks are handling traffic well -- so far.”

Nokia’s analytics service, dubbed Deepfield, also found a 300% surge in remote-conferencing programs like Zoom and Skype in the U.S. compared with the previous week. Video games, meanwhile, soared 400%.

Netflix Inc.’s decision last week to cap its video quality has eased a lot of pressure. The Los Gatos, California-based company accounts for a big chunk of downstream internet traffic in the U.S. and other countries. But its total data flow on March 21 was a third lower than the week before, even while the number of individual streams had increased 6%.

Telecom giant Vodafone Group Plc bulked up its U.K. networks’ capacity earlier this month to “minimize congestion at particularly busy aggregation points,” said the head of its U.K. business, Nick Jeffery. Rival carrier BT Group Plc describes its backbone network, which underpins most of Britain’s home connections, as “petabit class,” and its engineers say it can also add capacity quickly.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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