Internet speeds slow down across the globe due to Covid-19 lockdowns

Are you occasionally experiencing slow internet connection? This is a problem not unique to some users in the Philippines anymore, especially these days when many countries across the world are also implementing lockdowns due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Internet speeds have been dropping around the world in the past few days, according to Ookla, the company behind Speedtest that gauges online download and upload speeds. A logical pattern is apparent: cities or nations that are under quarantine (lockdown or movement control) tend to experience slower online connection as people are required to stay at home, to arrest the possible widespread of the new coronavirus infection.

Ookla has noted that fluctuations in Internet speeds have been reported in China, Japan, India, Malaysia and even European nations like the Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, and Spain ever since lockdowns in these countries were implemented. Online speeds in China though have started stabilizing as life starts to get back to normal after the Covid-19 crisis. Experts say the same can be expected in other countries.

To help lessen the burden on Internet Service Providers across the globe, video-sharing site YouTube and video content streaming service Netflix have announced measures to lessen their default streaming quality (below full HD standards) for the meantime.

Expected surge
In the Philippines, leading telcos PLDT/Smart Communications and Globe Telecommunications have been expecting a surge in local bandwidth use as more subscribers—professionals and students alike—observe work-from-home arrangements since March 15, when the enhanced community quarantine started rolling out in Metro Manila, the entire Luzon, and other provinces nationwide.

The National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) has recently asked streaming services in the country to reduce their respective streaming bitrate to ease the pressure on telcos. The government regulator announced early this week that YouTube and streaming platforms iflix and iWant have already agreed to implement adjustments following NTC’s request.

Easing data congestion
“This means more bandwidth will be freed up to ease data congestion due to the work-from-home arrangements as well as increased government, private, and education demands during the enhanced community quarantine,” NTC stated in a previous press release.

The Philippine Chamber of Telecommunications Operators (PCTO) has also warned the public that local networks may be “strained quickly” as a result of data usage surges. The organization is asking Internet users in the country to stream entertainment content only during off-peak hours to prioritize users who are in work-from-home arrangements and to use sharing services when transferring huge digital files instead of sending those in email attachments.