The spread of the coronavirus pandemic has forced many companies to send back their employees to work from home because of travel curbs and in an attempt to reduce the spread of the fast spreading virus in many countries in Europe.
That has resulted in a surge of up to 50 per cent in its internet usage in some European countries, Vodafone said. Apart from using the internet to enable them to work from home, customers are also using services such as Netflix more because of the entire families being forced indoors due to the pandemic.
The growth in household data usage is because of a wide range of activities conducted by household members – ranging from children accessing educational material online or playing online digital games and watching films and TV on multiple devices to their parents using the internet to work from home.
There are almost 120 million customers in a dozen countries in Europe with Vodafone – the second largest mobile operator in the world. The company did not divulge any details about the countries where there has been a pike in data usage but analysts said that it is most likely to include Spain, Italy and France, where there has been extensive lockdowns imposed by governments that has forced people to stay indoors for an extended period.
In the United Kingdom, the surge in internet data usage for Vodafone was 30 per cent and the company predicts that this is likely to increase further because of the government following on the footsteps of the policies imposed by some of the other European countries to prevent the spread of the pandemic. In the UK, the increase in data usage is was observed to begin much earlier in the day – around lunch time, which reflects that many people are working from home. The peak of usage remains 6pm to 8pm.
“Covid-19 is already having a significant impact on our services and placing a greater demand on our network,” the company said. “We should expect this trend of data growth to continue and we have already seen data traffic increase by 50% in some markets.”
The data usage patterns and figures were announced by the company’s chief executive Nick Read as part of a five-point plan that the company is currently implementing to offer its support for communities and governments to combat the fast spreading coronavirus pandemic.
As part of its support efforts, Vodafone is expanding it’s the capacity of its networks and is offering additional services such as extra capacity to hospitals and GPs to allow them to hold internet based activities such as videoconferencing as well as better connectivity for healthcare workers.
Vodafone is also offering its services for the governments to send coronavirus related public information through text alerts – which can also be specifically targeted for residents of areas that have been severely impacted by the pandemic.
“Vodafone can play a critical role in supporting society during this unprecedented time,” Read said. “We will strive to ensure that people stay connected to their family and friends, businesses can continue to run using remote working, our health services get all the support we can deliver and students can continue their education virtually.”
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)