``The Lockdown Effect: Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Internet Traffic"
Anja Feldmann, Oliver Gasser, Franziska Lichtblau, Enric Pujol, Ingmar Poese, Christoph Dietzel, Daniel Wagner, Matthias Wichtlhuber, Juan Tapiador, Narseo Vallina-Rodriguez, Oliver Hohlfeld, and Georgios Smaragdakis
ACM IMC 2020.

Abstract:
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many governments imposed lockdowns that forced hundreds of millions to stay at home. As a result of these measures, Internet traffic of residential users increased, in particular, for remote working, entertainment, commerce, and education. In turn, traffic demands in the Internet core shifted as well.

In this paper, using data from a diverse set of vantage points (one ISP, three IXPs, and one metropolitan educational network), we study the effect of these lockdowns on traffic shifts. We find that the traffic volume increased by 15-20% almost within a week---while overall still modest, this constitutes a large increase within this short time period. The Internet infrastructure is able to handle this increase, as most traffic shifts occur outside of traditional peak hours. When looking at traffic sources, we find that while hypergiants still contribute a significant fraction of traffic, we see a higher increase in traffic of non-hypergiants. We observe traffic increases in applications that people use when at home, such as Web conferencing, VPN, and gaming. While many networks see increased traffic demands, in particular, residential users, others see major decreases, e.g., in the educational network.


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