Telecoms’ plans to meet rising demand


Telecommunication service providers have drafted contingency plans for the reduction of band width or even for the prioritizing of internet traffic in case of emergency. Although traffic on the telecom networks has increased, it remains under control. Market professionals speak of a considerable increase, but not so much that would call for special measures.

According to officials at National Infrastructures for Research and Technology (GRNET), the “Menoume Spiti” (We Stay Home) initiative has led to a 10-15 percent rise in internet traffic. This is evident at the Greek Internet Exchange, or GR-IX, which is the interconnection point of all internet providers in the country. Although the traffic going through that point is not the sum of the entire Greek internet, it is indicative of the current situation.

GR-IX statistics show that peak-time traffic (at noon) comes to about 140 billions of bits per second and at off-peak hours (at 5 a.m.) to 40 Gbps. Last week, before the Menoume Spiti movement had begun, traffic would rise in the evening, but since last Monday it has been soaring in the daytime.

Cellphone network officials note a significant rise in talk time, with subscribers returning to second-generation (2G) networks given that a landline is unable to cover the needs of an entire family staying at home. However, they all note that it will be the landline networks that come under the most pressure, as has been the case in Italy and Belgium.

One of the measures both providers and the government are considering is “throttling” – i.e. the reduction of band width for users. This has been used for cellphone subscribers who exceed a certain level of data use. Another measure under consideration is traffic prioritization, with some providers stopping services such as video streaming or cutting off certain particularly busy servers.

Market officials speak of unprecedented demand which makes it impossible to make safe estimates and forecasts for the time being.