Fiber networks to the rescue

Submitted by fredrik.nyman on Fri, 03/20/2020 - 12:36

Fiber networks suddenly play a vital role - a life savior for the economy as COVID-19 hits the world. But will the networks cope with the load?

In previous posts I have argued the opportunity fiber networks enable for us to work from home as means to fight climate change. Now, with the virus outbreak, we are involuntarily confining millions of people to their homes and asking those who can to work from home or participate in distance learning so that business can continue (almost) as usual. No one might have anticipated such a fast and dramatic shift of so many to these new ways of interacting, but it is clear that without fiber networks the situation would be far worse.

But will the networks cope with the increased load? Will video conferencing systems and cloud based services scale to withstand the inrush of new users? And will people adapt to the new situations and find alternative things to do when social meetings at restaurants and cinema are out of the question?

Several news agencies report EU officials appealing to content providers such as Netflix and Youtube to reduce the bandwidth and deteriorate services in order to avoid "collapse" of the Internet as more and more people are confined to their homes.

The state of Internet backbones throughout Europe will certainly vary, but based on reports from our customers as well as the main Internet exchange point in Sweden, NetNod, the networks are handling the change quite well.

One of our Swedish customers that operates a large open-access network, shared the following graph.


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 "Traffic has increased 10-15% during prime time and the workday load looks more similar to weekend traffic pattern - more surf during daytime now than during a normal workday. Compare Monday the 9th to Monday the 16th. Significantly more load during daytime, but still below the evening peak hour. We have no issues at all."

Swedish Internet guru Patrik Fältström, head of Security at NetNod, confirms the situation. He writes daily about the state of the Internet in Sweden: In a blog post from the 18th of March he compares the bandwidth over the exchange point. While there is a clear increase in traffic, it is not overly dramatic and should be well within the excess capacity that operators need to have.


Image removed.

In conclusion, so far the Corona-situation has not had a dramatic impact on the Swedish networks. There are changes but all well within the capabilities of the infrastructure, thanks to a long list of unsung heroes working day and night as network engineers in city networks, Internet service providers and carriers to ensure that the Internet bits keep flowing.

It may be too early to speculate about the outcome, but I think that the COVID-19 experience will teach us all new ways of working with digital tools. It will lead to new innovation to improve the shortcomings and it will certainly show that we dont have to go to an office/classroom/cinema/show in person to be able to take part.


Blog posts

Detecting service quality issues

Submitted by fredrik.nyman on Tue, 03/24/2020 - 15:31

While networks handles the increased load from Corona with ease, not all services can say the same. Detecting quality issues in service delivery is much more difficult than checking if the network itself can handle the load. There is probably a million reasons why service quality can degrade even if the network seems to be working fine. The trick to detecting and troubleshooting these situations is use of telemetry and service assurance.

European networks unvoluntary casulties of US-China trade-war

Submitted by fredrik.nyman on Mon, 09/02/2019 - 13:19

I usually don't comment on our competition but recent events such as new legislation proposal from the government in Sweden has sparked a well-needed debate. I commented on the situation for Swedish city networks last week in this IDG article and also wrote a debat

Turn on automation of your FTTH network

Submitted by fredrik.nyman on Mon, 04/01/2019 - 09:08

The distributed nature of a fiber to the home network means that you will have equipment spread out and you might not always do the on-site installation yourself. If every switch has to pass your desk for pre-configuration port before getting deployed into the field you will need to deal with the logistics of getting the units from your warehouse via your desk, packing and unpacking, and clearly marking them so that the right unit goes into the right location.


Submitted by fredrik.nyman on Thu, 03/21/2019 - 09:51

I love acronyms. You got three of them in the title of this post.

In recent years we got Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV). Many of the large telcos have invested millions into research of these subjects and are pushing the industry in this direction. Telefonica has expressed high ambitions to move to a completely SDN/NFV enabled network in record time. All the big ones are involved.

Keeping product lines around

Submitted by fredrik.nyman on Fri, 03/15/2019 - 09:50

Building fibre to the home networks are different from any traditional enterprise or telecommunications network. One of the main differences is the time it takes to complete the network. You make a plan, design a an architecture with VLANs and redundancy and imagine how this will scale as the number of connected customers increase. But then the years go by, because building a fibre network to connect every home in the community can take decades.

Save the planet - work from home

Submitted by fredrik.nyman on Thu, 03/07/2019 - 10:30

In my last post i revealed how dirty a fiber network can be depending on the source of electricity powering the network. I showed how a typcial 24-port access switch might contribute anything between 23kg to 485kg of carbon dioxide per year to the atmosphere depending on the electricity mix and how that can be reduced with lowpower optical modules.