UK ISPs ‘will cope’ with increased broadband demands

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UK broadband companies say they are well equipped to cope with increased demand as millions of people remain at home during the Coronavirus outbreak, according to a BBC report. This follows a March 11th assertion by trade body ISPA UK that its Internet Service Provider (ISP) members were ready to handle any potential  demands should such a possibility arise.

ISPs say they have contingency plans in place and that their network can deal with extra daytime demand as people seek comfort from streaming services and online gaming. The highly-anticipated Disney+ SVoD service launches in the UK next week, whilst Steam, the PC gaming platform, hit a new all-time high on March 15th with more than 20 million players online at once.

“Nobody should expect broadband to crash or anything like that,” said Mark Jackson, editor of ISP Review, told the BBC. “That’s not how these things work. Some slowdown in speed during periods of truly heavy usage is possible. I’d expect this to be fairly limited, and that’s true even in normal times.”

The impact would vary between ISPs in different areas, he said – but most are set up to deal with a sudden surge.

Demand at peak times in the evening can be up to ten times higher than during the working day. But Openreach, which runs much of the UK’s infrastructure, said the existing network is already built to handle peak demand.

“As an example, the Liverpool versus Everton match, which was streamed live by Amazon Prime in December, drove significant peaks in traffic over our network without causing any major issues for our customers,” it said.

BT’s chief technology officer, Howard Watson, reassured: “We have more than enough capacity in our UK broadband network to handle mass-scale homeworking. Even if the same heavy data traffic that we see each evening were to run throughout the daytime, there is still enough capacity for work applications to run simultaneously.”

Meanwhile, TalkTalk said its services “regularly experience peaks in demand” and the company was confident it could manage an increase in the volume of traffic.

Virgin Media added it has yet to see “any significant network traffic spikes”, but it has put plans in place for such an event.


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