Can bandwidth 'discipline' be achieved and should it be allowed?

Can bandwidth 'discipline' be achieved and should it be allowed?

As from Monday, March 16, various telecoms operators across Europe will start to exercise greater discipline in allocating internet bandwidth.

Though the unforeseen situation that has arisen as a result of the coronavirus outbreak has brought forward such measures, they were already in the pipeline, thanks to the need for 24/7 internet coverage.

Companies in the United Kingdom such as Sky and BT proudly boast of their ‘no limits’ broadband, however, such promises will begin to sound a little hollow once any potential new measures have been put in place.

With there likely to be a vast surge in the number of people working from home in the immediate future, the industry are reviewing their protocols in this regard, however, with little else to pass away the time should the UK follow other European countries in lockdown, there is bound to be a backlash from businesses and consumers.

Any such move is bound to affect businesses at their most basic level. Computer access, be that for the exchange of emails (and attachments) or the creation of documents is just a starting point. Withdrawing the ability to essentially function may have dire consequences.

Exceptional phase

Video streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube, not to mention all of the major social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, could see user access limited.

“We’re entering an exceptional phase which brings us to take a close look at the (traffic) peaks to which we have become accustomed,” Arthur Dreyfuss, the head of France’s telecoms lobby FFT, was quoted as saying on Sunday.

“We are entering an era of collective social discipline, which must be accompanied by digital discipline on the part of the telecom operators.”

From a social point of view, on an average evening, YouTube, Netflix and Facebook take up, on average, about 80% of the overall internet bandwidth, an industry source noted.

What’s hard to comprehend is that, with the imminent arrival of 5G, telecommunications providers were clearly looking further ahead, but now seem to be considering what appears to be draconian measures at best.