ISP Factsheet Covid-19
The UK Network is coping well
• The ISP industry is working flat out to maintain network performance. From managing demands in the network to fixing issues as they arise, the industry is on the frontline of enabling customers to stay connected with friends and family and continue working from home at this important time.
• Feedback that we have received from our members suggests that the UK internet is coping well. ISPs continue to monitor the traffic across their networks.
• ISPs are well placed to handle increased remote working. Peak network demand for ISPs is traditionally in the late afternoon and evening when more bandwidth-heavy services like gaming and video streaming are in use. Previous examples of significant events have been well handled and networks are still below peak network demand seen during large video game releases. Remote working generally uses less data-heavy activities like email and video conferencing and with schools now closed we are essentially in a situation that is similar to a snow day.
The different parts of the internet value chain and how they impact performance
• We are aware that even though the core network is coping well with demand, more localised issues arise occasionally. Internet performance is based on multiple parts of the Internet ecosystem that all play a part in an end user’s internet performance, these include:
o Your home setup: several factors in a user’s home setup can affect performance, including how your home router is configured and positioned, your laptop, the quality of the wiring and even the walls within a home. This guide from Ofcom provides tips on improving performance: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/features-and-news/helping-broadband-and-mobile-users-stay-connected
o Internet services and applications: This is the content and services that people access online, from Netflix to Gov.uk or video conferencing platforms. Several of the services have seen significant increases in demand that have put pressure on their systems which can lead to slower performance, even though the ISP connection to these services is not at capacity.
o Your ISP: ISPs are the companies that connect customers to the internet. There are hundreds of ISPs in the UK, ranging from household names business-focused or smaller providers. Some of these run their own networks while others rely on the infrastructure provided by Openreach. Depending on the technology that is used to run the network, local networks can become contended, but ISPs are consistently reviewing the capacity required by their customers to deal with such localised issues.
o The core network: the core network provides services to customers who are connected to the access network. This is where the network is managed and connects various parts of the wider internet to ensure that there is sufficient capacity.
Further facts and information
• UK ISPs tend to run their networks at lower contention rates than their European counterparts meaning there is more headroom to absorb peak traffic. UK ISPs have also built up extensive relationships with major application and service providers and networks are geared towards carrying lots of video content over the internet, including live sport.
• ISPs employ tens of thousands of people in frontline roles, including engineers and call centre staff. ISP staff are classed by the Government as key workers so can continue to travel for work purposes. However, like other businesses, the impact of Covid-19 means additional safety checks and precautions may need to be put in place which may impact call centre operations, data centres, etc.
• ISPs have published updates on how their network is responding to the new working environment. A few examples include: https://newsroom.bt.com/the-facts-about-our-network-and-coronavirus/, https://www.virginmedia.com/help/coronavirus-update, https://hyperoptic.com/help/virus-updates/
• While most providers offer unlimited data as part of their service, some ISPs have chosen to relax data caps and usages. Customers are advised to contact their ISP if they get into difficulty but be aware of increased customer service call volumes.
• This is obviously a very live situation, ISPA is in contact with its members and the Government regularly to discuss developments.
• Further guidance and information can be found on the Government website:
o General: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
o Key workers and educational provision: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision
If you have any questions, please get in contact with the ISPA team: firstname.lastname@example.org