Facebook is working to ensure its services stay online due to increased demand as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Netflix has also been affected and has been forced to reduce video quality to handle the increased demand.
Global Internet usage has spiked in the last few weeks, putting a strain on the network infrastructure of various online services.
As part of recommendations made by the WHO, maintaining social distancing is one method which could help to reduce the spread of the virus.
Because of this, many governments have recommended their citizens leave their houses only when necessary, while private companies have asked their employees to work from home.
Increased server capacity
Facebook has nearly doubled its server capacity for WhatsApp as people have come to rely more on the messaging platform for making voice and video calls.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that although the COVID-19 outbreak is still limited in most countries, the company wanted to ensure people would be able to stay connected if the situation deteriorates.
“This isn’t a massive outbreak in the majority of countries around the world yet,” Zuckerberg stated.
“But if it gets there, then we really need to make sure we’re on top of this from an infrastructure perspective to make sure that things don’t melt down,” he said.
Zuckerberg noted that demand was consistently above WhatsApp’s normal peak period over New Year’s Eve.
“We are on a sustained basis well beyond what that spike is on New Year’s. Just making sure that we can manage that is the challenge that we’re trying to make sure that we can stay in front of.”
Netflix and Microsoft affected
Facebook and WhatsApp are not the only online platforms recording surges in demand.
Netflix recently stated that it had observed a 20% global increase in time spent streaming.
Although its servers have been able to handle the load, the streaming giant said that it will lower its video bitrate in Europe over the next 30 days to reduce its impact on the continent’s network.
Usage of Microsoft’s cloud-based Teams service increased from 32 million to 44 million daily active users in the course of a week.
In a notification sent to Microsoft’s admin message centre, the company announced several changes to its Office 365 productivity suite, including throttling particular non-essential functionality to increase the performance of more commonly-used features.
These updates include a reduction in video resolution, how often Microsoft checks for a user’s presence, as well as intervals in which it shows another party is typing.