The Strategic Imperative
Frost & Sullivan believes that service providers and network operators will start to look at raising their network investments in response to rising levels of the pandemic traffic as more cities and states start enforcing “Stay at home” guidelines. This increase in traffic will happen in both the wireless segment and the wireline side. Verizon and AT&T both recently announced it would boost spending on their networks this year, partly in response to the new COVID-19 outbreak.
Carriers are seeing a measurable increase in data usage. UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has launched Stay Connected, a nationwide campaign advising the public on ways to reduce pressure on networks during the coronavirus lockdown. Supported by the country’s biggest Telcos including BT, Sky, O2, Vodafone and Virgin Media, the campaign offers consumer tips to avoid network outages.
The Surge in Data Traffic
WhatsApp is experiencing a 40% surge in global usage as a result of social distancing and increased digital communications. Not to be outdone, Facebook and Instagram are also experiencing a massive amount of increase in usage over 30% more than ever before.
AT&T reported this week that minutes of use (MOU):
- Wireless voice MOU are up 30% compared to an average Tuesday.
- Wi-Fi Calling MOU are 70% higher than an average Tuesday.
- Consumer home voice calling MOU are up 40% from an average Tuesday.
- The core network traffic — which includes business, home broadband and wireless usage — was up 28% in March compared to the same day last month.
In the consumer space, data caps at all of the broadband internet providers will hopefully be gone along with this pandemic. We recently saw the service providers and MSOs all relax data cap rules for users working from home, kids distance learning, gaming and movie streaming.
Now that companies have adopted work from home as a suitable option to do business, Frost & Sullivan expects this phenomenon to become something of a normal way of life and an option for employees to use. Once this pandemic settles down we expect the Enterprise industry to start to follow these same trends.
- Allow more employees to work remotely.
- Provide cloud meeting and team collaboration services to support workers.
- Evaluate cloud meeting and team collaboration providers based on quality, reliability, scalability, feature set, and cost-effectiveness.
- Use online broadcasting tools in replacement of live events in affected regions.
- More likely that education and future planning for disasters and pandemics.
This trial period due to the pandemic will likely take away associated cultural taboos in some countries, increase trust among workers/managers, and pave the way for a new future.
Amidst the demand for video collaboration tools, Cisco cited that traffic on the WebEx backbone, which connects China-based WebEx users to their global workplaces, has increased as much as 22 times since the COVID-19 outbreak started. During the same period, Cisco saw four-to-five times as many users in Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, with the average time spent on WebEx doubling among these users.
The Last Word
Data traffic is up across the board with streaming services, chat and instant messaging, social networking and collaboration tools all reporting double-digit increase in usage over the past 3 weeks. This only intensifies the opportunity and need for more bandwidth, higher speeds and increased requirements from the Operators to continue to pursue 5G and spending on the network. Right now, the sentiment from consumers is that 5G and fiber networks cannot get to me fast enough. Operators, that’s your cue ….