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In the recent weeks, we were observing glitches in the internet traffic. Smaller and bigger corporations are equally affected by this phenomenon. This article will explain, why and how this situation have happened. It will also give you hints how to prepare for a major internet outage, which could affect every continent and country in the upcoming days.
Due to the ongoing situation, a lot of people are forced to work from their homes. High-school kids are forced to learn online, which sometimes means watching online videos. A lot of people are bored, and cant work right now. They watching videos and movies online as well. Due to this, the internet usage significantly increased globally. To fight this, video sites disabled HD video content for a month during the first wave of the virus.
Picture: Bandwidth monitored by the Budapest Internet Exchange corporation
The situation caused an additional 50% data bandwidth usage, which has became critical in the past months. The fist major global incident happened approximately one month ago, when the servers of Google suddenly stopped. The reason of this was not known, its assumed that the electric network was not able to sustain the extra power consumption of the server. The reboot affected various American services and corporations. One of the notable victims of the incident was Discord, which was not working properly for hours.
In the next days, multiple incidents have happened, affecting mostly American corporatios. Facebook Messenger stopped working for almost a day, then multiple smaller incidents have been reported with Youtube, Facebook, which became more and more frequent. For a while, these outages were mostly isolated to services from American origin, however in the recent days the problem became global, and started to affect different kind of services as well. Currently, there are problems daily in every major services, including even westerner services related to Google, Gmail, Facebook, Discord, Youtube, Skype...
Due to the extreme traffic, the internet connection became unstable in various places. One of the major ISP (Internet Service Provider) that became the victim of this, was DIGI, which is a service provider ran by ethnic hungarians in East Europe, mainly in Hungary and Romania. The high bandwidth the users demanded, was too much for the network of Digi, which started to throw connections alltogether, causing a week long unstability on the network, not only for private persons, but for infrastructural partners as well.
Digi currently offers 1 Gigabit per second internet access with 300 MBit upload speed, only for montly $15. The guarantied download speed in the contract is 500 Megabit per second. These are currently quite impressive numbers even by western standards. First Digi assumed that pulling down the speed to the 500 Megabit range would solve the issue - but it didn't. The network remained unstable, because if the people need the given data, no matter how fast the access is, the people will still wait for the data. Which means that the overall workload approximately stays the same regardless of the throttling.
If the internet speed could be throttled down further, the situation maybe could be handled. This would however mean limited speeds only to a couple of Megabits per second. Also the contract does not allows the ISPs to go below a given speed, in the case of Digi, 500 Megabit per second, without violating the contracts they made with the users. In some Western nations, such as USA, the ISP corporations usually make less strict contracts with the costumers, which makes them to be able to throttle down further, which could help in the situation if needed.
There is a possibility that streaming corporations will limit the quality of the content to 360p or even below. In Britain, some content providers already throttled down to 480p since march. Youtube also prepared to limit the video quality, if its needed to do so. This will however not solve every issue. Viewing websites will also generate multiple MBytes of bandwidth, as modern websites are full with pictures and complex scripts.
As you can see from the examples above, the situation could go far worse than now very quickly. Prepare for not being able to access video content, or not being able to view it in modern resolutions. Prepare for not being able to access updates and upgrades for your operating system and for the programs you use. Prepare for not being able to use social media or not being able to access your e-mail address. Prepare for slow speeds, and website loading times above a minute.
Get in contact with the people you know. If you have a friend on Facebook, pick him up on Skype, and vice versa. Ask for the e-mail address of people you want to be in contact with. Register an alternative e-mail address at a different e-mail provider, and let your friends know about the new address.
Before the holidays kicking in, you can easily buy a pack of blank DVD discs. If you dont have a DVD burner, it could be a good time to buy one, as you can get one for very cheap - for a couple of bucks. Used hard disk in second hand shops can be bought for cheap. A 1-1.5 TByte hard disk costs only $30-$50 which you can store to download some material to entertain yourself. Install the upgrades on your operating system and for your programs till your internet is stable.
Be prepared at least mentally: you will maybe not able to visit your favorit places on the internet. Be prepared that this can happen, and gather other forms of entertainment. If your job depends on internet access, talk with your boss or your clients about this situation, and ask for alternative methods to be in contact and to be able to work. Ensure you dont fall into depression or into panic, if you can't access the places you used to.