As the coronavirus pandemic forces people around the globe to stay inside, the focus has quickly shifted on internet providers and mobile operators to ensure optimal service to cater to growing data demand.
In this scenario, Pakistan is no different. Since the provincial governments’ move to lock down all provinces, demand for data has increased exponentially as people use their home networks and mobile data to access the internet and continue working, learning and entertaining themselves as the entire country goes into self-isolation.
So far the internet broadband providers and mobile operators seem to have done a good job. This is particularly impressive given the severity of the government imposed lockdowns.
All private offices including mobile franchises and retailers are forced to shut down; travel is banned, and a there is a looming sense of dread as the number of infected keeps increasing. Even in this scenario and exponential growth in data demand, services have so far resumed as per normal.
This is commendable because just last week, UK mobile networks including O2, EE, Vodafone and 3 went down for five hours leaving millions of British workers struggling to work from home.
In many countries, messaging on Instagram and Facebook has soared by over 50 percent, while group calls have more than tripled. In a recent interview, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive said, “We are trying to keep the lights on over here.” Skyrocketing traffic and a crush of new users are stressing even Facebook’s systems.
Similar stress is seen at global streaming giants Netflix and YouTube, who have both been forced to choke video quality in Europe amid unprecedented demand. This is an attempt to limit the strain on internet providers globally.
In an email statement issued on Thursday, Ken Florance, the Vice-President of Content Delivery at Netflix, said: “Given the crisis, we’ve developed a way to reduce Netflix’s traffic on telecommunications networks by 25% while also maintaining the quality of our service. So consumers should continue to get the quality that comes with their plan — whether it’s Ultra-High, High or Standard Definition.
Although the lockdown in Pakistan is expected to end in the next 10 days or so depending on the situation, if it prolongs, there is an urgent need to ensure mobile operators and internet providers are offered full support by the government in ensuring they continue providing uninterrupted services. This includes opening up of franchises and retailers and allowing technical teams to operate as per normal in patching up faults as and when they appear.