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In Times of Change, Networks Play a Key Role


In Times of Change, Networks Play a Key Role

What changes did the lockdown bring to our communication networks?

  • Joan Raventós

    CEO of Zhilabs

  • Claudia Park

    VP and Head of Marketing
    Group at Samsung Electronics.

April 28, 2020 – With many countries prompted to implement lockdowns and impose shelter-in-place guidelines, the concept of ‘business as usual’ has changed, as we have adapted to a new norm. This has required employees to work from home and students to take classes online for their own safety, transforming daily lives into something we have never experienced before. Thus, a reliable network has become even more important, serving a critical role in bringing a stable platform to those working remotely, enabling communication among families and friends, and obtaining health-related information.

In this blog post, we will explore how network traffic patterns in certain countries have changed since social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines were implemented, and how communication service providers (CSPs) can respond.
So, what changes did the lockdown bring to our communication networks?

Traffic Changes

Samsung and Zhilabs, a Samsung company, analyzed data traffic changes using Zhilabs' CustomAIr, a network management solution. With CustomAIr, we were able to identify several variations in network data traffic before and after the lockdown in certain countries.

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Our network sampling reveals that data traffic in both fixed broadband networks and mobile networks increased by 48% and 24%, respectively, since the lockdown.

Using Zhilabs’ CustomAIr solution, we were able to take a closer look into the various consumer app usages. Due to the rise in number of employees working from home, the traffic of virtual business meeting apps increased by 218%. Also, with students taking online classes, the traffic of online class apps rose by 437%. These figures are averages taken from the apps we monitored. Based on our monitoring tool, certain apps even showed an uptick in data traffic by up to 1,917%, which is an extreme growth in this particular segment.

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Shelter-in-place procedures have also caused a significant impact on how we spend time in our daily lives. More and more people accessed the online network to stay connected with others and to socialize while staying at home. This have led to a traffic increase of 38% in social networks apps and of 60% in video calling apps.

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Moreover, restrictions on outdoor activities have resulted in increased demand for leisure activities that can be enjoyed in the comfort of the living room. The traffic for video streaming apps has increased by 32%, and some gaming apps have recorded an explosive growth of up to 2,065%.

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Online supermarket apps for grocery purchases and other necessities have experienced an increase in traffic by 35%, while healthcare apps that allow users to make doctor’s appointments and get various medical and pharmaceutical information have also experienced growth in traffic by 234%.

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Since the onset of ‘the new normal’ we have been faced with an entirely different network consumption pattern. A large increase in network demand has led to a rise in traffic while users still expect the same network quality as before.

Samsung’s Recommendations to the Service Providers

At a time when connectivity is crucial, maintaining a reliable network is a lifeline. As shown in the analysis, the surge in data traffic may be a burden on the current network, since it is difficult to anticipate the sudden changes and quickly address them. One of the best ways for CSPs to respond is to analyze data traffic patterns and make improvements on the specific areas of the network where enhancements are necessary. Solutions that generate real-time, end-to-end visibility of their network services at subscriber level can enable more dynamic service level adjustments and enhance user experience. With these kinds of solutions, CSPs can accurately assess subscribers’ data usage patterns and specifically identify the areas in which optimization or capacity reinforcement is required.

Operators can deliver a high quality of customer service and meet users’ particular demands based on per-subscriber level insights (CustomAIr Link ). Solutions like the Zhilabs’ CustomAIr provides AI-based analysis on various application usage patterns (Video I ) and encrypted video traffic (Video II ). To further enhance operators’ network visibility, new solutions are being commercially introduced like Netliner, which allow operators to gain 360-degree real-time visibility and understanding of its 5G network. For more information, please visit here. (Press Release , Video )

It is difficult to predict how long current uncertainties will last, but one thing is clear—maintaining connectivity is vital for society. CSPs should have the ability to accurately monitor data traffic usage and manage their networks accordingly.