The national lockdown has meant that South Africans have been using the Internet at much higher rates than before the pandemic began.
However, despite the lockdown regulations being lessened to level 3 and more people being able to return to their workplaces, fibre usage trends have not changed noticeably.
This was the message from South African ISPs, who spoke to MyBroadband about recent fibre usage trends in the country.
Cybersmart told MyBroadband that home fibre usage has stayed relatively stable between level 4 and level 3 of the lockdown.
However, fibre-to-the-business (FTTB) and enterprise fibre usage have increased.
Cybersmart said that it expects the current fibre traffic levels during level 3 to be indicative of the new normal.
This involves increased home usage relative to pre-lockdown levels, and CyberSmart thinks this will continue as more people continue to work from home.
It also noted that the traditional peak traffic periods have become less pronounced during the lockdown period.
“The peak traffic for home usage – what we have historically called Netflix time – has flattened as people binge-watch throughout the day,” Cybersmart explained.
“We can’t differentiate between conference video and streaming so a lot of this increased day usage is definitely as a result of Zoom calls,” it added.
MWEB said that usage has remained stable between lockdown levels 4 and 3.
However, throughout the lockdown period, it has noticed an increased volume of traffic during day-time hours.
It has specifically noticed an increase in the amount of streaming taking place.
It expects that the current patterns of fibre traffic will continue in the coming weeks and months.
“We anticipate seeing usage stabilising, with the current patterns persisting for a while longer as people remain home-based,” it said.
RSAWEB said it has not seen a decrease in fibre usage.
“Most companies still encourage their employees to work from home, which is driving the demand for fibre or fixed LTE at home,” it explained.
“Network utilisation graphs from Mondays in May and June indicate that there is no visible decrease but a week-on-week increase in the network demand,” said RSAWEB.
“We expect this trend to remain the same for most of June and July.”
The network utilisation graphs referred to be RSAWEB are below.
Cool Ideas shared a graph involving one of its largest Fibre Network Operators (FNOs) which detailed traffic levels throughout 2020.
While there was a clear spike in fibre usage when the lockdown first started, traffic has stabilised over the past two months, and a slight decrease has taken place in June.
Cool Ideas said it doesn’t expect major changes to traffic levels moving forward.
“I suspect many businesses are going to try and gear towards working from home or at least a portion of staff working from home on a permanent basis,” it said.
“So possibly a small dip in demand, but most people are well settled in their usage patterns by now.”
Cool Ideas also highlighted that it has received an increase in support requests during the lockdown period that are “mostly due to the additional wireless traffic and interference generated with everyone being at home, along with the increased demand for installations at home”.
The graph showing traffic levels throughout 2020 for an unnamed FNO is below.
Vumatel confirmed the experiences of ISPs by saying that it has not seen a significant change in traffic between levels 4 and 3 because many people are still working from home and not all learners have returned to school.
While the first week of the national lockdown saw a significant increase in peak network usage, it said this has normalised over time.
“We believe this is, in part, due to people finding a routine for remote working and learning,” said Vuma.
It also acknowledged that usage takes place more consistently during the day rather than simply increasing in the evenings.
Vumatel believes that traffic will remain at its current levels for the foreseeable future as it expects many people will continue to work and learn from home.