Impact remote working visible on KPN network.
A clear working from home pattern can be seen when we’re making video calls en masse
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Netherlands has been working from home and that is also reflected in the traffic flows on KPN’s network. It has been much busier and the traffic patterns have also changed. Clear home-working patterns can be seen in the outgoing internet traffic (upload), which peaks every half-hour and on the hour when the Netherlands logs on en masse for another video call.
Figure 1: Clear working from home patterns visible in outgoing KPN internet traffic with ‘sawtooth’ on Monday, 23 November. The dotted line shows the pattern for a ‘normal’ Monday, before COVID-19.
If you compare KPN’s outgoing internet traffic from before COVID-19 with that of today then a completely difference pattern is noticeable. Firstly, it is busy much earlier in the day and there is a whole series of ‘sawtooths’ visible in the outgoing internet traffic. This reflects the new work rhythm of many Dutch people, with countless video calls. From early in the morning, the Netherlands calls en masse with colleagues or other business contacts. This pattern becomes visible from 8.00 with a clear peak at 9.00 when the Dutch workforce takes a seat behind the computer. This pattern is repeated every half-hour and on the hour with the start-up of a new video call. And this repeatedly results in a new peak in the traffic that KPN delivers on the internet.
Figure 2: Internet outbound traffic on Monday 23 November 2020 compared with a ‘normal’ Monday before COVID-19 (dotted line). For detail, see Figure 1.
During lunch there are significantly fewer video calls, but even then you see small peaks. It shows that some of us are continuing to work through lunch. Traffic returns around 13.00 and that continues until 16.00. Video calls are being held after this, but it no longer results in real peaks in the outgoing traffic. We’re hardly making any calls after 17.00; we’re mostly making video calls from 9 to 5.
Well-equipped for peaks, even during the day
Especially at the beginning of the corona outbreak, KPN saw a sharp increase in the use of its network (+25%) and also a shift in traffic within the network. Much more from home and less from the office, turning broadband consumer connections into business connections. In terms of incoming traffic (download), the working from home pattern is less visible in the big picture, although it is striking that the network is much busier. Usually, you see, for example, a small dip around 8.00, when we go to work en masse, in the car, on public transport, or with the bike. Now, you see a sharp increase. In terms of capacity, KPN is more than capable of handling this. The network is geared towards peak loads, which typically occur in the evenings and at the weekend, when people at home are watching TV or streaming videos from Netflix and Amazon Prime. In corona times, it is actually continuously busy, and on some days you can even see that it’s just as busy during the day as it is in the evenings or at the weekend.
Figure 3: KPN’s incoming internet traffic on Monday, 23 November 2020 compared with a ‘normal’ Monday before COVID-19 (dotted line).
The enormous peak that we saw at the start of corona, when everyone was suddenly at home and, for example, the children were not going to school, was less visible in the summer. Traditionally, summer periods and days with good weather are always a bit quieter. The summer of 2020 was busier than usual, which can be explained by the fact that people were traveling abroad less. After the summer, the network immediately became busier again. The autumn and winter months, when people are at home more, are the busiest moments on the network. The partial lockdown and the measures that have been tightened step by step can also be seen at KPN, where the traffic has also increased stepwise. As the biggest supplier of corporate workspaces, KPN is seeing more and more companies and employees embracing working from home and the use of, for example, Microsoft Teams is still growing fast.
More demand for fiber optics, higher speeds and good WiFi
Customers can generally work well from home and the networks are coping well. KPN is seeing an increase in the number of customers switching to higher internet speeds, so that they can work from home comfortably. We have seen the share of new internet subscriptions with speeds of 200 Mbps or more grow this year from 20% to 25%. More and more people are also choosing for fiber-optic internet: in the third quarter KPN welcomed 27,000 new fiber-optic customers. A good internet connection is one thing, but it also comes down to a good WiFi solution at home. Much more attention has been paid to this in recent months and KPN can help customers with various tools and solutions. The SuperWiFi offer is very popular.