FORECAST/RESEARCH/STUDY

COVID-19 Impact On 2020 Network Traffic Trends

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By Ifeoma Asika, Correspondent Campuses

Demand for streaming video skyrocketed at the start of lockdown, with service providers experiencing anywhere between 50 per cent and 80 per cent growth in streaming traffic, dominated by Netflix.

The rising traffic put added pressure on networks, prompting regulators in the EU to consider restrictions on streaming speeds. Voluntary speed reductions by video providers and an increase in off-net video delivery – from the internet – allowed service provider networks to better manage this strain.

By September, HD streaming had been restored everywhere, and both peak and aggregate streaming traffic had stabilized at 25-30 per cent above pre-lockdown levels.

The first week of lockdown brought an astonishing 350 per cent jump in videoconferencing traffic as people switched to working from home. This resulted in the increase of upstream traffic – in some cases up to 30 per cent.

Zoom was the clear favorite provider in the early months of the pandemic, with significant use even at weekends. By September, however, Microsoft Teams was beginning to eat into Zoom’s dominance.

Gaming traffic trends 2020

Gaming traffic more than doubled in the first week of lockdown. Demand for glitch-free gameplay was exacerbated by downloads of new releases and updates, including Call of Duty: Warzone in March and Call of Duty Season 6 in September.

By September 2020, gaming had grown to be around 10% of all traffic on some service provider networks.

DDoS traffic trends 2020

New customer behaviours bring new security risks to the network, and 2020 was no exception. By April, traffic caused by distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks had increased by 40% over pre-lockdown levels.

While many attacks can be correlated with the rise in gaming, other factors were also at play, including increased abuse of North American and European DDoS amplifiers – potentially via growing use of IoT botnets.

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