By Gabriela Baron
Close to 3 billion people in the world are under lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic and their main source of entertainment is the internet.
People around the world are reporting slow internet connection and instabilities.
Ookla, web services that provides free analysis of internet access performance metrics, has reported that it has seen a drop in internet speeds around the world.
In late January, as China locked down some provinces to contain the spread of the coronavirus, average internet speeds in the country dropped as people who were stuck inside went online more and clogged networks.
In mid-February, when the virus hit Italy, Germany, and Spain, internet speeds in those countries also started to deteriorate.
And last week, as a wave of stay-at-home orders rolled out across the United States, the average time it took to download videos, emails, and documents increased as broadband speeds decreased 4.9 percent from the previous speeds.
Quarantines around the world have made people more reliant on the internet to communicate, work, learn, and stay entertained.
As the use of Youtube, Netflix, Zoom, Facebook, and videogaming has surged to new highs, the stress on internet infrastructure became serious in Europe and the United States.
To head off the problem, Netflix and YouTube announced that they will change the default quality to 480p which is a step below FullHD in Europe to lessen the burden on networks. In India, Australia, and Latin America, the streaming giant switch its HD video streams to slightly lower quality.
In the United States, regulators have given wireless carriers access to more spectrum to bolster the capacity of their networks.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian government announced that it will be providing free home internet to its users starting April 1. The country will also provide 1GB of free mobile internet data per day.
Tech companies have also responded to the call to ease internet traffic. Disney delayed the start of its Disney Plus streaming services in France by two weeks and Microsoft’s Xbox asked gaming companies to introduce online updates and new releases only during off-peak hours to prevent network congestion.