WFH Video Requirements Putting Pressure On Networks

Working from home (WFH) inspires a massive leap in local bandwidth requirements.

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KIXP are stepping up to the bandwidth challenge.

The idea of working from home always seemed like a joy reserved for the special few. That was till COVID-19. The coronavirus pandemic has created challenges in virtually every aspect of business, in ways few people could have imagined just a few short months ago. IT is certainly no exception, with CIOs and other technology leaders working overtime to cope with the disruptions, support the business, and continue to steer transformations into uncertain futures.

But as businesses settle into the new normal and work from home strategies, connectivity companies in the region could probably be facing the most challenges and bandwidth requirements almost doubled in the last two months. Unconfirmed reports hint that traffic at the Kenya Internet Exchange Point (KIXP) increased from 1.5Gbps to 2.8Gbps, signalling a massive leap on bandwidth requirements. Probably as a result of the video bandwidth as a result of the thousands of online meetings happening as a result of the lockdown.

IT is no exception, with CIOs and other technology leaders working overtime to cope with the disruptions, support the business, and continue to steer transformations into uncertain futures.

A source at the KIXP also indicated that some of the big players exchanging traffic at the KIXP are upgrading their links, some almost as much as ten times more to provide for seamless connectivity as others are increasing the number of ports at the exchange point to balance their load. “The big providers are doubling their ports to make sure that they balance their load and provide a good user experience to their customers,” said our source. Which they would need to with the online crush.

According to the Communication Authority (CA), fibre-to-the-office/home data/internet subscriptions recorded the highest number of broadband subscriptions in the Q4 ending in December 2019, whereas fixed wireless recorded the highest number of narrowband4 subscriptions.

During the quarter under, the total international Internet bandwidth leased in the country increased by 16.1 percent to stand at 6,241.84 Gbps from 5,374.02 Gbps recorded during the previous quarter. This increase is attributed to the additional bandwidth lit by The East African Marine System (TEAMS) to meet its customer’s increasing demand for bandwidth. The total utilised bandwidth capacity increased by 80.3 percent during the quarter to stand at 2,720.26 Gbps, 35.1 percent of the bandwidth was sold within the country and 64.9 percent outside the country. The utilised satellite bandwidth, on the other hand, declined by 48.2 percent to record 2.70 Gbps.

A source at the KIXP also indicated that some of the big players exchanging traffic at the KIXP are upgrading their links, some almost as much as ten times more to provide for seamless connectivity.

But even with this increase in bandwidth, users are still reporting degraded services from increased call drops to unreliable and patchy connectivity for video calls that replace face-to-face meetings necessary to keeping teams going while working from home. A number of them are finding themselves turning to their mobile devices for hotspots. A feature that is easy enough to activate but proves to be far more costly within a short amount of time while still prone to fluctuations. “A lot of our staff are dependent on mobile cellular subscription for connectivity, meaning they are connecting for meetings via 4G or 3G and this has not been reliable,” said June Muchomi, CEO, 21st Century Consultants. The best way around this would be fewer active gadgets, which means minimizing the work experience by narrowing it down to a finer point.

Experts also observe that domestic broadband connections, which are designed to cope only with evening surges in traffic, may not be able to handle long days of adults engaging in video calls and children taking online classes or logging on to play games and/or watch movies. Netflix in Britain, for instance, had to tamp down their offering from 1080p to 720p for bandwidth’s sake. It is, therefore, a point of pride that KIXP is managing and witnessing an amp up instead of negotiating down.

 

 

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