Network traffic and consumption trends in 2020

As COVID-19 lockdown measures were implemented in March-April 2020, consumer and business behavioral changes transformed the internet’s shape and how people use it virtually overnight. Many networks experienced a year’s worth of traffic growth (30-50%) in just a few weeks, Nokia reveals.

network traffic 2020

By September, traffic had stabilized at 20-30% above pre-pandemic levels, with further seasonal growth to come. From February to September, there was a 30% increase in video subscribers, a 23% increase in VPN end-points in the U.S., and a 40-50% increase in DDoS traffic.

Ready for COVID-19

In the decade prior to the pandemic, the internet had already seen massive and transformative changes – both in service provider networks and in the evolved internet architectures for cloud content delivery. Investment during this time meant the networks were in good shape and mostly ready for COVID-19 when it arrived.

Manish Gulyani, General Manager and Head of Nokia Deepfield, said: “Never has so much demand been put on the networks so suddenly, or so unpredictably. With networks providing the underlying connectivity fabric for business and society to function as we shelter-in-place, there is a greater need than ever for holistic, multi-dimensional insights across networks, services, applications and end users.”

The networks were made for this

While the networks held up during the biggest demand peaks, data from September 2020 indicates that traffic levels remain elevated even as lockdowns are eased; meaning, service providers will need to continue to engineer headroom into the networks for future eventualities.

Content delivery chains are evolving

Demand for streaming video, low-latency cloud gaming and video conferencing, and fast access to cloud applications and services, all placed unprecedented pressure on the internet service delivery chain.

Just as Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) grew in the past decade, it’s expected the same will happen with edge/far edge cloud in the next decade – bringing content and compute closer to end users.

Residential broadband networks have become critical infrastructure

With increased needs (upstream traffic was up more than 30%), accelerating rollout of new technologies – such as 5G and next-gen FTTH – will go a long way towards improving access and connectivity in rural, remote and underserved areas.

Better analytical insights enable service providers to keep innovating and delivering flawless service and loyalty-building customer experiences.

Deep insight into network traffic is essential

While the COVID-19 era may prove exceptional in many ways, the likelihood is that it has only accelerated trends in content consumption, production and delivery that were already underway.

Service providers must be able to have real-time, detailed network insights at their disposal – fully correlated with internet traffic insights – to get a holistic perspective on their network, services and consumption.

Security has never been more important

During the pandemic, DDoS traffic increased between 40-50%. As broadband connectivity is now largely an essential service, protecting network infrastructure and services becomes critical.

Agile and cost effective DDoS detection and automated mitigation are becoming paramount mechanisms to protect service provider infrastructures and services.




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