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COVID19: Staying home triggers surge in internet demand

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Cyprus’ Electronic Communications Commissioner is monitoring internet traffic, following an increase of bandwidth demand due to the COVID-19 lockdown measures.

With people working from home, and the internet is becoming the main source of entertainment for families forced to stay at home, there are concerns whether the Cyprus network can handle the demand.

In comments to the Financial Mirror, Electronic Communications Commissioner George Michaelides said he has no particular concerns over a possible system crash, but nevertheless, his office wants to have a clear image of the volume of data traffic during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Commissioner has requested providers to send statistics regarding the volume of traffic-related to internet access for fixed and mobile networks on a weekly basis for the next 6 weeks.

The data of each network will also be compared to previous periods of use.

In the same context, data relating to cellular areas (cells) and parts of the fixed network of providers to identify any congestion.

The Commissioner’s office will also look into data concerning demands from consumers for speed upgrades.

Michaelides welcomed providers’ social sensitivity by upgrading consumers’ internet packages to help keep people staying at home entertained.

He said that his office is currently reviewing the packages offered, comparing them to what is being offered by providers in other European Union member states.

“The fact that providers are offering free upgrades is also an indication that they are confident that the network can handle the increased demand.

All providers have increased uploading speeds to help people working from home, with some increasing download speeds to facilitate streaming movies online.

State telecoms Cyta has moved all its services online and in case a consumer wishes to purchase a device, such as a phone, the authority offers free delivery.

Epic is also standing by their subscribers with free upgrades.

The company has announced that it has doubled, without charge, data for customers with a Broadband-in-a-Box plan (from 40GB to 80GB, 60GB to 120GB, and Broadband in a Box XLarge from 80GB to 160GB).

Epic has also increased upload speeds for all subscribers of Internet and Telephony plans.

It has also offered free of charge to all TV service subscribers, the Complete Plus package, which include the Novacinema & Novasports channels.

Cablenet has also upgraded their TV packages to help keep people staying home entertained.

The Commissioner said the office has received complaints about slow internet connections, but the majority of them had to do with subscribers having more than 3 devices connected to the net at the same time.

“Especially if a home network is used for TV packages through the internet, while another 3-4 devices are connected then it is expected that the overall available speed will be limited,” said Michaelides.

He said this is one of the main reasons why providers are upgrading their services.