covid-19

Global internet outages reach new high

29 April 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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Internet outages around the world reached new record levels last week, despite relatively strong performance from global networks during the first weeks of Covid-19 lockdowns.

The data, compiled and published by ThousandEyes, showed UK outages increased 62% and global outages 11% since week commencing April 13.

When the global outages are compared to week commencing April 6, which saw a dip, total events were up 77%.

 One noteworthy outage during the week involved Tata Communications’ network infrastructure across Europe and India, with outages affecting 80 network interfaces across multiple regions and cities.

Cloud providers were also affected, despite a recent two-week downward trend, with outage levels spiking to those last seen in late March. The UK compared well in this respect with its cloud provider outages limited to two occasions. It also did relatively well on the collaboration app front. Here, network outages continued to trend upward globally for the second week in a row, but in the UK they returned to zero.

“Network outages rose throughout March, reaching previously unseen levels. While these numbers fell in early April, they [have] returned to March levels since then. The number of outages seen last week may represent our ‘new normal,’ although, it may be too early to tell,” Angelique Medina, director, product marketing, ThousandEyes.

"Last week specifically, there were several large-scale outages that contributed to the increase. Tata Communications experienced an outage that affected its infrastructure across the UK, France, Germany, and even India, with the effects felt by users attempting to reach services like Amazon, ServiceNow and Oracle Cloud. The outage was fairly lengthy, lasting approximately 20 minutes and involved more than 80 network interfaces across multiple regions and cities. In the US, CenturyLink’s Level 3 network suffered a major disruption due to fibre cuts, which impacted users and businesses throughout multiple regions of the United States,” she added.

The figures suggest the brief respite in outages over recent weeks was an anomaly rather than a downward trend.

 

As the world went into Covid-19 lockdowns in March global outages were at an “all time high”, only dropping below 300 in the week March 30 – April 5. That week, global outages were down 9.13% from the previous week, and US outages were down 16%. However, the majority of these were due to upgrade work, with impact limited.

“The duration and scope of many of the outages that did take place suggest that they were the result of network operators making changes to optimise performance as traffic levels increased. In the week of April 6, we saw a dramatic drop in US outage events by more than 44%. Given that traffic volume has plateaued, we very well may be looking at a return to outage levels seen before Covid-19,” Medina added.

As Capacity reported last week, it is hoped that traffic levels may start to slow.

“What we have seen is an accelerated evolution – yearly traffic growths being achieved in a matter of weeks, sometimes even days. It is unlikely that the extraordinary traffic increases will continue.

“However, many networks are already operating at 20%-40% over their pre-pandemic traffic levels, especially when looking at the peak traffic times, for example weekend evenings when the usage of streaming video on demand is greatest,” said Craig Labovitz, CTO for Nokia Deepfield.