Editor’s note: Luca Ciferri, editor and associate publisher of Automotive News Europe, is living under quarantine at his Italian home in Villastellone, just south of Turin. This will be the final installment in the series.
With schools closed and many companies asking their employees to work from home, the speed of the Internet is slowing down in many European countries.
Italy is at the forefront of this because schools here have been closed since March 3 and most of those lucky enough to be working have been doing so remotely since March 12.
The bottom line is that the infrastructures was not designed to handle this much Web traffic.
In the Turin area, where I am based, Internet traffic doubled last week and the system is close to collapse, local experts say.
With Austria, Belgium, France, Portugal, Spain and parts of Germany under a similar lockdown, this problem will only get worse.
Thierry Breton, the EU Commissioner for Internal Market, said that working from home and streaming put pressure on digital infrastructures.
Consequently, Breton asked Netflix to move to a lower video definition to reduce the bandwidth absorption, even creating a dedicated hashtag, #SwitchToStandard.
Netflix, in response, announced it will reduce the bit rate in Europe for a month to reduce bandwidth usage by a fourth.
In an interview (by phone, to save bandwidth) from his home in Palo Alto, California, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told international media that traffic for Facebook Live and Instagram videos has doubled in Europe. The same is true for Messenger and WhatsApp for calls. In addition,
Alphabet’s YouTube said on Friday it will reduce its streaming quality in the EU to avert internet gridlock.
How does an internet slowdown impact your daily life when working from home?
Buffering, which occurs when your internet speed is too slow to download the amount of data needed, was common here this week for the first time in years.
It was particularly bad while in was listening to BMW’s financial results press conference on Wednesday. On three occasions, I got the buffering notification, which caused me to miss what was said during those periods.
After moving to a fiber optic connection two years ago, I was sure that my buffering days were over. The coronavirus outbreak reminded me again that its impact on regular daily life is huge because in times like these a stable and reliable digital infrastructure is more crucial than ever.
I hope that these blogs have provided some insights into the impact of the coronavirus in Italy, even for people who, like me, are perfectly healthy.
This will be the final installment in the series because, sadly, the reality of a two-week quarantine is no longer unique to Italy. It is becoming the norm in much of Europe.
Stay home and stay safe, as we are now used to doing here.
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