Staying Home Overwhelms Data Transmission in Latin America

Por Rodrigo de Oliveira Andrade  (IPS)

Latin America organizes its technological infrastructure in order to accommodate a record level of internet use due to the coronavirus epidemic. Foto: Pixabay

HAVANA TIMES – Data usage in Latin America increased 20-30%, according to estimates, and the experts are wondering if the region is prepared for teleworking, a recommended step in many countries to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The change is linked to the movement by many companies and world governments to have their employees work from home, reduce their social contact, and contain covid-19. Now, the concern of many experts is that we will saturate the web and compromise data transmission.

For example, in Brazil, the increase in telework due to the spread of the novel coronavirus has resulted in a record level of data being accessed on the nights of March 18 and 19, up to a rate of 10 terrabites per second, 15% more than normal usage, this according to the Center for Coordination and Information in Ponto, Brazil (NIC.br), the body responsible for coordinating Internet service in Brazil.

These high rates of data transmission are attributed to the increased use of video streaming on platforms such as Netflix, and the large numbers of video conferences taking place on Skype or WhatsApp for work functions and class attendance.

The operators, who understand that Internet capacity is finite, are already asking users to access responsibly, even though other entities in the sector, such as the NIC.br, point out that the infrastructure is prepared for high demand.

Julio Sirota, infrastructure manager of IX.br, subsidiary of NIC.br, responsible for creating the infrastructure for data exchange between the networks of service providers and businesses in Brazil, said that “it is an expected increase observed over the past four months, so there is no risk that this newer demand will overwhelm the servers.”

According to Sirota, the risk, for now, is the restricted movement of technicians that work on maintaining the Web.

En Argentina, in fact, Internet traffic in the first week of the shut-down increased between 20-25%, according to the Argentine Internet Congress (Cabase).

“Because we have a strong web and are prepared for various contingencies, we believe that the country’s Internet infrastructure is in good shape for dealing with this exceptional situation and if  we use the resource responsibly, the connectivity will be there,” said the spokesman for Cabase.

Regardless, for Cabase, data usage these days is fairly similar to that of last month when we had barely started clases.

“The difference for networks during these days won’t be due to teleworkers as much as due to the youth who are not in class and spend longs periods using multimedia platforms and streaming in high definition,” he added.

In Ecuador, since the beginning of the quarantine, an increase of 30% in Internet demand has been observed. The same in Chile, who registered an increase of 30% in data transfer between Monday the 16th and Thursday March 19th, this according to PIT Chile.

In Uruguay, the National Telecomunications Administration registered 34% growth in mobile traffic (WhatsApp) after confirming their first cases of covid-19 in the country.

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