Decoding the Bandwidth Surge During Covid-19 Pandemic (2020)

By Ram Ranganathan, Chris Markovich, Tushar Mathur, Omar Abu-Hijleh, Thomas Cloonan & John Ulm, COMMSCOPE

During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people around the globe have become far more reliant on their broadband internet connection to stay connected to their family, friends, and co-workers. The broadband internet has emerged as an essential technology that is keeping society together and the economy running in this stressful time.

The growth of broadband internet traffic was bound to happen due to “Work from home” and “Stay at home” instructions around the world during the pandemic. The dependence upon virtual meeting and online collaboration applications has become increasingly important during the pandemic as well. The web apps that are helping us stay connected must work reliably for people to be able to socially connect and stay productive. A few key questions had to be answered quickly during these crises by the broadband operators and vendors – Are the bandwidth surges during the COVID-19 pandemic breaking the broadband Internet connectivity? How are the commonly used applications handling these surges? There are many popular web applications that drive the conferencing audio and video traffic in any broadband network. Many cable operators have reported a sudden growth of Upstream and Downstream traffic in their networks resulting from these conferencing apps. Due to the tighter constraints that currently exist on the Upstream spectrum, the DOCSIS Upstream is more sensitive to this uptick in bandwidth consumption. In this paper, we will present our research and analysis of the major sources of DOCSIS Upstream bandwidth surge. Specifically, this paper will provide insight into the surge impacts on video conferencing applications and observations on latency, jitter, packet loss, and throughput as DOCSIS Upstream channel utilizations reach an extraordinary tipping point.

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