The unprecedented level of bandwidth demand has become the new normal—only the fittest network providers will survive…

In this period of stay-home notices and quarantines, people around the world are expecting good internet connectivity despite the massive load on telcos. Given the surge in demand, it is speculated that the amount of capacity required to conduct video conferences smoothly, collaborate with others in real-time, all while streaming an endless amount of content and media, can potentially overload networks everywhere.

Given the unprecedented pace and scale of change the world is facing today, downtime is non-negotiable. Network outages will be detrimental to the ongoing success of connectivity vendors, whose services are also relied upon to facilitate communications. In the event of network slow-down or downtime, there are especially far-reaching consequences for critical business and public service providers beyond losing customers.

Why networks become overloaded

As borders tighten and governments impose lock-down laws, it is inevitable that much more work and play will be done online by entire populations simultaneously.

Telecommunications companies like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile have recognized this new demand and have begun to loosen data restrictions and increase speeds. As corporate users expect seamless connection to enterprise technology services like Microsoft Teams, Google Suite, and other digital workspace providers, an outage or choppy network could do lasting damage to brands.

Demand for leisure services has also begun to skyrocket as the world’s population adjusts their daily routine to be in front of their devices. Online streaming services such as YouTube or Netflix, online shopping services like Amazon or Lazada, and the rise of livestreaming and e-sports will all place simultaneous strain on networks. Recently, for instance, the Polish government launched a Minecraft server so young people can be incentivized to stay at home and game during the coronavirus outbreak.

Even events like graduations have been ‘moved to the cloud’—as demonstrated by the Japanese students who graduated via a virtual Minecraft ceremony. We expect many organizations will be rapidly taking up more cloud space and internet bandwidth as they adapt to this situation, forcing the question: will our networks be enough?

How network providers can ease the pain

Because of this increased demand, interconnectivity is more important than ever before. It has been noted that IP transit services are already maxing out capacity and users should consider other options such as peering and direct connections to the cloud.

Corporates, enterprise technology vendors and all internet service providers should consider a more diverse range of options to maintain interconnectivity but ease the load on networks.

As crisis is often a catalyst for innovation, inefficient legacy models are quickly becoming obsolete. To allow service providers and enterprises to quickly and efficiently meet growing network needs, one solution would be to employ a software-defined network (SDN). Both end-users and providers benefit from this extended network reach, bringing users more access to available data centres and public cloud options. This can ‘open up the pipes’ for more diverse routes to meet the influx of demand.

Traditional connectivity options are no longer suited to the demands of this imposed new world order. Smart networking capabilities that combine on-demand connectivity, adoption and modification of hybrid cloud and seamless SDN interconnectivity, will provide businesses and users friction-free access to global network infrastructure.

Preparing for a new age of digitalization

Network services, internet service providers, OTTs and media and entertainment companies have considerable responsibility in delivering quality content and services that are highly accessible and on-demand, with no delays or complications.

Although digital transformation initiatives have already been working in the background to support these new and diverse workloads for some time, the pandemic is set to accelerate such measures more than ever.

Some businesses were already ahead of the curve before the COVID-19 crisis. Their wider adoption of the public cloud, increased deployment of hybrid cloud while modernizing on-premise infrastructure, has put them in the enviable position of being able to deploy additional resources with ease, outstripping competitors who are still encumbered by legacy systems.

The laggards may very well be forced to follow the leaders to survive, and to accelerate the worldwide shift to sustainable digital solutions. This will in turn, spur the next new age of digital transformation.