Why didn't COVID-19 break the internet?

The short answer to why the internet has survived a huge surge in traffic during the global coronavirus pandemic is that the infrastructure that makes up its backbone was designed to survive just such an emergency.

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Just a few months into its fifty-first year, the internet has proven its flexibility and survivability. 

In the face of a rapid, worldwide traffic explosion from private, public and government entities requiring employees to work from home to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, some experts were concerned the bandwidth onslaught might bring the internet to its knees. All indications are that while there have been hot spots, the internet infrastructure has held its own so far – a silver lining of sorts in a dreadful situation.

Evidence of the increased traffic is manifold:

  • Video on Verizon’s network is up 41%, VPN usage is up 65%, and there’s been a tenfold increase in collaboration tool usage, said Andrés Irlando, senior vice president and president at Verizon’s public sector division.  
  • Downstream traffic has increased up to 20% and upstream traffic has up to 40% during the last two months, according to Cox Communications CTO Kevin Hart. “To keep ahead of the traffic we have been executing on our long-term plan that stays 12-18 months ahead of demand curves. We’ve had to scramble to stay ahead but 99% of our nodes are healthy,” he said.
  • The DE-CIX (the Deutsche Commercial Internet Exchange) in Frankfurt set a new world record for data throughput on in early March hitting more than 9.1 Terabits per/second. Never before has so much data been exchanged at peak times at an Internet Exchange, the DE-CIX stated.

How is the internet handling this situation?

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