Report: Networks resilient under pandemic
November 18, 2020
The Network Intelligence Report from data-driven network intelligence and analytics specialist Nokia Deepfield, which examines service provider network traffic and consumption trends in 2020, reveals the networks were made to withstand the Internet’s rollercoaster year.
The report examines overall changes in Internet traffic patterns in the last decade and in 2020, focusing on key application areas such as video streaming, video conferencing, gaming and Distributed Denials of Service (DDoS) security.
As Covid-19 lockdown measures were implemented in March-April 2020, consumer and business behavioural changes transformed the Internet’s shape and how people use it virtually overnight. Many networks experienced a year’s worth of traffic growth (30 per cent-50 per cent) in just a few weeks. By September, traffic had stabilised at 20-30 per cent above pre-pandemic levels, with further seasonal growth to come. From February to September, there was a 30 per cent increase in video subscribers, a 23 per cent increase in VPN end-points in the US, and a 40-50 per cent increase in DDoS traffic.
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.
“Never has so much demand been put on the networks so suddenly, or so unpredictably,” notes Manish Gulyani, General Manager and Head of Nokia Deepfield. “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. Nokia Deepfield’s software applications have allowed service providers to understand activity in their networks in these critical times. The data and insights we’ve drawn on for this report also show how continuity of service can be ensured to create value for their customers.”
After monitoring network traffic over an eight-month period, Nokia Deepfield identified five key takeaways for service providers to use in planning future network capacity and value-added services for their subscribers:
- 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 per cent), 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 per cent. 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.
The report’s data was gathered from network service providers across Europe and North America from February to September 2020 using the Nokia Deepfield portfolio of network insights and security applications, which use big data analytics to monitor, analyse and understand network traffic and services.