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Internet daytime traffic reaches new heights as homeworking soars amid coronavirus crisis

PUBLISHED: 05:53 02 April 2020 | UPDATED: 06:22 02 April 2020

An Openreach engineer at work  Picture: BILLYPIX

An Openreach engineer at work Picture: BILLYPIX

BILLYPIX

Communications engineers are abiding by strict new rules in order to keep people connected during the coronavirus crisis as daytime internet usage soars.

In March, UK network provider Openreach said it had see a 28% week-on-week rise in daytime usage over its fibre network across the UK – and a 74% increase on February.

“Unprecedented” numbers of people were now working from home and keeping in touch with the outside world via the internet, it said, but it was now prioritising essential work in accordance with government guidance.

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“Our 25,000-strong team of frontline engineers have been designated as key workers, so we have introduced new ways of working to keep our people, and the communities they serve, safe as they work to keep the East of England connected throughout the Coronavirus pandemic,” the company said.

“In terms of capacity, our network already manages very heavy usage in the evenings when people are streaming movies or gaming.

“The types of applications that people use heavily outside of work – like Netflix, Amazon Prime or Sky Go – use more bandwidth than typical working tools like email, collaboration software or even voice and video conferencing.”

But the company said it was not seeing any significant issues across its broadband or phone network.

Maximum peak daytime traffic for the network is between 2pm and 5pm, while the evening peak traffic is between 8pm and 11pm.

“This is in line with what we expected and not as high as the usage levels we are still seeing during evening peak times,” Openreach said.

Its focus was on repair and maintenance of critical national infrastructure, such as the NHS, pharmacies, emergency services, essential public services, retail and wholesale food distribution outlets, vulnerable customers and those without any service, it said.

Engineers will no longer enter customer premises unless they fit into one of those categories, and only when it’s an absolute must, with repairs happening outside premises. The business is only allowed one engineer per van.

Across the East of England, around 3,400 people are employed by Openreach, most of them engineers.

Corporate affairs boss Catherine Colloms said: “Our engineers are real people, many with families, and we want to protect them at all times. We are doing our best to balance that responsibility with our responsibility to keep the UK connected.”

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