NQ Blog – March 2020

Will the Coronavirus Break the Internet?

By Jesse Price, CEO, NetQuest Corporation

As the novel Coronavirus has been dominating the news and conversations on a global basis, it also is likely to create some novel issues for the internet as well.   If we consider the scale of what is unfolding, the networks and systems that comprise the internet are likely to exhibit symptoms that are directly related to the virus and some may be acute.  Consider the following:

  • Telecommuting (working from home) is not something new, in fact we have been talking about and doing it for decades. Yet, we are about to scale the use to levels never seen before.
  • Expect increases in business videoconferencing and web conferencing as business travel is dramatically curtailed for sales calls, team collaboration and even industry events.
  • Online Learning is not something that is entirely new although it is constantly evolving to provide a more collaborative learning environment using more bandwidth intensive applications. As expected, the academic community at all levels is rapidly transitioning lesson plans to the use of this technology. The scale in the use of online learning tactics that are about to unfold is unprecedented.
  • Mass reductions of public gatherings, entertainment events and increasing quarantines are causing the entire population to spend more time at home. Expect peaks in streaming video content, online gaming and generic web surfing as people’s desire for both information and diversions escalate.
  • Global stock market volatility is upon us as breaking news is creating wild swings that haven’t been seen in over a decade causing automated trading circuit breakers to trip and halt trading.
  • Social media should expect to see large increases in usage as people replace human to human interactions with online communications services.

All of these factors correlate directly to the amount of bandwidth the network must carry and while users often measure network performance at our own personal point of access (i.e. our phone or wifi connection), it is the core of the network that will be tested as the situation escalates.  But beyond bandwidth, the anatomy of a single modern-day internet session is a complex array of systems and network services all working together in harmony.  A breakdown anywhere in the network has the potential to interrupt or block a critical application or service.

We are entering a bold new period in our ever-evolving world, no one can be certain how systems will behave since this type of situation is impossible to simulate or model.   What we do know is that we are all in this together, large and small countries, rich and poor individuals, those with and without healthcare, the virus is indiscriminate, and it isn’t going away anytime soon.  Here at NetQuest Corporation, we are focusing R&D efforts on securing the highest capacity Internet links on which we’re all becoming more dependent upon.  Rest assured that those responsible for keeping our world connected will be proactive and prepared to respond.