Pandemic Causing Global Internet Disruptions
August 11, 2020
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Rapid adoption of cloud services, widespread use of SaaS applications, and reliance on the Internet has created business continuity risks for enterprises, according to the 2020 Internet Performance Report: COVID-19 Impact Edition from ThousandEyes, recently acquired by Cisco.

"The Internet is inherently unpredictable and outages are inevitable even under normal conditions. However, with the overnight transition to a remote workforce, remote schooling, and remote entertainment that many countries experienced in March, we saw outages spike to unprecedented levels -- especially among Internet Service Providers who seem to have been more vulnerable to disruptions than cloud providers," said Angelique Medina, research author and Director of Product Marketing at ThousandEyes.

Based on measurements collected between January and July 2020, the report uncovers insights into the resilience and behavior of the global Internet, including:

Global Internet disruptions saw unprecedented rise

Global Internet disruptions saw an unprecedented rise, increasing 63% in March over January, and remained elevated through the first half of 2020 compared to pre-pandemic levels.

In June, 44% more disruptions were recorded compared to January.

North America and APAC experienced largest spikes in March

ISPs (Internet Service Providers) in North America and APAC experienced the largest spikes in March at 65% (North America) and 99% (APAC) respectively versus January, and have since returned to levels typical of those regions.

In EMEA, however, outages continue to increase month over month with 45% more disruptions in June versus January.

Internet Service Providers hit hardest

ISPs were hit the hardest, while cloud provider networks demonstrated greater overall stability.

Between January and July, cloud providers experienced ~400 outages globally versus more than ~4500 in ISP networks.

Relative to total outages, more than 80% occurred within ISP networks and less than 10% within cloud provider networks.

Impact on Internet users varied

Though the total number of outages increased across all regions, impact on Internet users varied. Following pre-pandemic patterns, a larger proportion of disruptions in EMEA tend to occur during peak business hours as compared to North America, where a majority of large outages typically take place outside of traditional business hours and therefore may not have a meaningful impact on Internet users.

Overall, the Internet held up

Despite unprecedented conditions and an increase in network disruptions, Internet-related infrastructures have held up well, suggesting overall healthy capacity, scalability, and operator agility needed to adjust to unforeseen demands.

Negative performance indicators, such as traffic delay, loss, and jitter generally remained within tolerable ranges, showing no evidence of systemic network duress.

Increased network disruptions due to operator adjustments

Many of the network disruptions observed post-February appeared to be related to network operators making more changes to their networks to compensate for changing traffic conditions.

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