A look at how COVID-19 is impacting web traffic

COVID-19 is impacting virtually every business and individual all around the world, with shifts towards self-isolation and working from home. We take a look at the impact this has had on web traffic globally.

The novel coronavirus is having a fundamental impact on most industries and day to day lives of many people. As the organisations that do have some semblance of business-as-usual move further towards remote working, strategic investments in a wide variety of digital assets are becoming key to survival.

Digital services and infrastructure are not only allowing businesses to stay afloat, but they are also facilitating growth and alternative modes of income, as many companies pivot sales and product goalposts via digital channels in order to accommodate the adjusted demand of customers within a variety of industries. In essence, digital is becoming central to sales strategy and business survival.

Of course, all of this is creating serious concerns over whether the physical networking infrastructure will be able to keep up with the increased burden of traffic. Network operators all around the world have reported massive upticks in their broadband usage, with short-term spikes that would ordinarily be expected over the course of a year. Vodafone, for instance, outlined a five-point plan of how it plans to manage the increased load, citing an expectation of a 50% increase in traffic in some markets up until this point.

A wide variety of digital and cloud platform providers have also reported massive increases in the stress being applied to their services, with services such as Zoom and Slack experiencing record user growth around the world. Microsoft have also said that they have noticed huge spikes across its cloud ecosystem, with one particular surge of around 775% for its Teams service in Italy.

All of these pivoting digital dependencies, as you might expect, have also coincided with a corresponding, equally sharp shift in the general flow of web traffic, both in regard to where connections are being made and the industries within which the traffic is flowing. We take a look at data from Cloudflare and Imperva to assess the significance of these changes.

Traffic moving out of metros

One of the more obvious observable trends around web traffic is that it is decentralising geographically, moving away from purely major metropolitan centres and becoming more dispersed throughout major cities into more suburban areas. This is an expected result of corporate offices and educational facilities shutting down, with workforces and students becoming more remote, alongside increased internet use for leisure purposes.

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