Afrihost’s IPC usage reveals that South Africans are using far more bandwidth during the day because of the current work-from-home lockdown.
IPC (IP Connect) is a wholesale service used by Internet service providers (ISPs) to supply data services to their subscribers over Openserve’s ADSL and fibre networks.
The bandwidth which flows through an ISP’s IPC connection is therefore a good measure of bandwidth usage trends on its network.
Afrihost supplied MyBroadband with a graph of its IPC usage comparing mid-week (Wednesday) traffic from February and during the lockdown (yesterday).
It shows a big increase in bandwidth consumption during lockdown. There was a 62% increase in usage in the afternoon and a 27% increase in usage at the peak – around 20:00.
An interesting revelation is there is only one period where pre-lockdown bandwidth use was higher than now – between 06:00 and 07:30.
This illustrates that people are getting up later during the lockdown, which is not surprising as no travel time is needed to start work.
The graph below shows the IPC usage on Afrihost’s network on a Wednesday in February 2020, and 22 April 2020.
Networks taking strain
While fibre and DSL service providers like Afrihost do not have significant service degradation due to higher bandwidth use, several wireless providers are struggling.
A network like Rain would experience a similar increase in bandwidth demand on its network, and this has an effect on its network performance.
Rain has seen a 50% decline in the average download speed on its network during the lockdown.
The reason is simple. Unlike Afrihost and other ISPs which can increase their IPC capacity, a mobile operator needs additional spectrum to increase capacity.
There is some good news, though, as ICASA recently issued temporary spectrum to the operator.
Rain has received an additional 30MHz in the 2,600MHz band which it uses for its LTE network, which should help to ease congestion.