Remote Working and the Future of Infrastructure in an Online World

The Remote Working Future: Part 3

This blog is part of a 3 part series. Read the other articles here:

Part 1   •   Part2   •   Part3

Why are Internet Networks Crashing during the Covid-19 Outbreak?

Worldwide we are seeing millions and millions of people forced to stay in their homes and try to move their whole world online.  Working from home, streaming media to distract themselves from boredom and isolation and video conferencing with friends is becoming a worldwide phenomenon.  At the same time internet networks are crashing.  Netflix Europe among other companies has decided to throttle speeds to try to address this.  You can read the article here. (link to Jeremy’s article) The main reason that internet networks are crashing lies in the features that residential internet networks have and don’t have.

Why are home internet networks failing with the surge in people working from home?

Residential internet is not made equal to business internet.  Businesses pay a premium fee to have features that allow them stability and security.  Now that everyone is being forced to work from home their residential internet networks are starting to fail.

Internet Outage Map by ThousandEyes

What’s the difference between Residential/Home and Business Internet?

Residential internet networks are cheaper because they do not have a dedicated connection.  A typical residential network could have 30 users for the same connection, so peak times will have lower speeds when everyone is home using the same connection and competing for the same bandwidth.  This is exponentially more difficult with everyone stuck in their homes trying to work and take online classes all day on the same network connection.  Peak time is more or less every moment with everyone at home trying to use the same internet network.

“Residential internet typically has high download speeds, but low upload speeds.”

 

Residential internet typically has high download speeds, but low upload speeds.  Normal residential internet usage involves people who are mostly downloading content, watching movies and reading content on websites.  Uploading is necessary for video conferencing, and pushing data to the cloud.  Everyone is now working from home, video conferencing for work, and for social engagements like the book launch parties that have moved online.  The networks are struggling to keep up with the extra demand for upload speed that this requires.  Residential internet networks that have prioritized download speeds and not upload speeds are not ready for the increased demand for video conferencing capabilities.  Since internet speed is a combination of both download and upload this means your residential internet is simply not built to be fast enough for the increased demand on uploading.

Business internet also offers a static IP address, where residential internet plans do not.  A static IP address allows for more stability.  Every time that your IP address refreshes you could face a short period of downtime.  A static IP also is more reliable for voice over IP (phone calls over the internet) including Skype and Facetime.  The transferring large amounts of data is more efficient and secure over a static IP.

Residential Internet Networks Can’t Handle the Increased Demands on Them

As Covid-19 drives everyone into their homes to rely on their residential internet networks we are seeing more and more network outages.  The infrastructure is not in place to have the entire work force suddenly working from home and uploading exponentially more data.  Websites and networks are crashing.

While attempting to compile data for this article the author was unable to access information on remote worker statistics directly from the U.S. Census Bureau because the website couldn’t handle increased traffic and wouldn’t load.

Internet Network Providers Respond to the Covid-19 Situation

Internet network providers are scrambling to support the extra demand on home internet during the Covid-19 outbreak.  The Federal Communications Commissions issued a pledge to keep Americans connected as they work from home and as students begin to practice distance learning.  Companies such as Frontier, Verizon and Cox Communications among others, have signed the pledge.  This means that for the next two months they will not terminate service to any customers, residential or small business, whose inability to pay bills are caused by Covid-19.  Late fees will be waived and Wi-Fi hotspots will be opened to the public.  Spectrum is offering free broadband and Wi-Fi for households with students and they are waiving the installation fees.

“The Federal Communications Commissions issued a pledge to keep Americans connected as they work from home and as students begin to practice distance learning.”

Time will tell whether this is enough to prevent further troubles with network crashes.  It is probably just the beginning of a serious look at our network infrastructure.  More households will be forced to switch to business internet networks.  The increase in creative ways to run a business online may turn into a long-term way to supplement cash flow for many small businesses.  As companies and communities rally to support each other during the Covid-19 outbreak we are demanding changes to our infrastructure that will set us up for a more connected and engaged online world in the future.