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Internet before and after coronavirus: how the quarantine has changed


With much of the work transferred to the homes of thousands of Spaniards, companies that provide internet services and offer infrastructure have been studying the user behavior to the millimeter. To this we must add the endless hours of free time of all the students or workers in the middle of the ERTE that are inevitably kept at home connected to the internet.

All this sudden change has been a real headache for companies that endure all the infrastructure of internet connections. One of them is DE-CIX, which, as a neutral network provider used by companies around the world, has access to very interesting data on how the world has behaved in recent months.

The needs of individuals are joined by those of companies and public institutions that must continue at full capacity as they are essential. A general increase in internet traffic that has misplaced the plans of the companies.

Internet in confinement

Internet user behavior does not usually have large unexpected spikes. Our previous daily journey was more than measured by the companies and they knew how and when we made more use of the network. In recent years, infrastructure has managed to absorb even the moments of greatest traffic concentration such as New Year's Eve, but what has happened with COVID-19 has been totally unexpected.

Telecommuting @purzlbaum on Unsplash Omicrono

Before the health crisis, the annual peak increase was between 10 and 50% with sustained growth throughout the year. The peaks that are collected were normally concentrated in autumn and winter and related to live events (sports, television programs …), updates or new releases.

Another of the 'before' characteristics was a more or less stable distribution of the type of traffic and applications. As well as some normal cycles between the different moments of the day.

Skype @matzby on Unsplash Omicrono

The paradigm has totally changed with confinement. According to the data handled by DE-CIX, internet traffic has increased between 10 and 50% in a matter of days. They have also found that spikes are related to confinements and that some types of applications have accounted for much of the increase. Mainly and according to the company, collaborative tools (Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack, Zoom …), everything related to gaming and video consumption.

Although some streaming services have reduced the quality of their retransmissions, the infrastructure, among which are data centers, he has got hold without major problems.

Spain before and after the crisis

As a neutral provider, DE-CIX has access to a very reliable x-ray of what the internet traffic in Spain. And more specifically in its main node in Madrid.

According to its data, the Madrid node has experienced a 50% increase in volume of traffic from content distributors (CDN, Content Delivery Network). This system geographically brings content closer to end users to increase response speed and balance network load.

Traffic in Spain De-Cix Omicrono

As for the collaborative tools, the increase is 100% and the number of users has been multiplied by 5. Similarly, the online and cloud video game sector (such as Stadia or Xcloud) have increased by 30% since the beginning of the crisis. Also 100% has been the increase in traffic related to streaming video platforms (such as Netflix or HBO) and they have doubled the number of users.

Netflix @freestocks on Unsplash Omicrono

Similarly, the maximum traffic (peak traffic) has increased by 18%, reaching the record figure of 503 Gbps. Only in the DE-CIX infrastructure in Madrid. Although they may seem like stratospheric numbers, if you look at the data from Frankfurt, one of the most important nodes worldwide, the peak traffic record is 9,200 Gbps due to the 10% increase in the last few weeks.

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