The companies themselves have been mobilizing themselves to limit the speed of the videos. Facebook has already done so on the two social networks, Facebook and Instagram, and Netflix has also switched to “normal” broadcasts by suspending high-definition streaming. Even Disney +, which now arrives in Europe, has already accepted the same order.
In Portugal, the Government has already approved a decree-law that defines what are the rules for communication operators to control access to communications networks, and that alters the definitions that were in force until now for internet neutrality. In this way, it is intended to ensure that the critical services of the State are maintained but that Internet access is also guaranteed for the entire population during the COVID-19 pandemic. Operators can now limit streaming, online games and even access to automatic recordings of TV shows.
Ookla’s connection speed measurement platform, Speedtest has been measuring the impact of the pandemic on the speed of fixed and mobile networks and shared the latest data, where it accounts for a degradation that is visible in the various areas of the globe, and which is accompanied by an exponential growth in the number of tests performed.
The data shared yesterday show that, in Europe, in the week of 16 March the average speed on fixed networks decreased in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. In Germany alone the average speed dropped 10 Mbps, from 103 to 93Mbps, but in Austria and the United Kingdom there were no changes.
Also on mobile networks, some countries were more affected, such as Austria, France, Spain and Switzerland, although in Holland the average speed has even increased.
Portugal is not on this list of monitored countries, but February data show that the country is in 21st position in terms of average speed on the fixed network, with a record of 107 Mbps download and 49.43 download. In mobile networks, the ranking is not so favorable, with Portugal in 38th position globally, with a download speed of 38.56 Mbps and 11.71 Mbps of upload.
It should be noted that these numbers correspond to an average, and that they are based on user tests, so there may be users who have suffered greater degradation in the speed of their networks.
Brazil without major impact in a scenario of lower internet speed globally
The Speedtest analysis is done by geographic areas, with Asia being the region that has felt the most impact in recent weeks, but where there is already a recovery. In China, the average speed of internet access on the fixed network has gone up, including the province of Hubei where COVID-19 appeared. In Japan, the speed remained the week of March 16, compared to the previous week.
In South America, on the other hand, there are different realities. The average speed of the fixed network dropped sharply in Chile in the last week, with an increase in latency, and in Ecuador the pandemic impact is also felt. But in Brazil there are no major changes, although it is one of the countries in South America with a lower average speed of internet access. In mobile networks, the decrease was less significant, with a slight decrease in Chile and Brazil, while Ecuador even registered an improvement in the average speed.
The United States and Canada are also suffering from speed drops. The average of the fixed network dropped from 140 to 133 Mbps in the United States, while in the mobile network it went from 75 to 73 Mbps. In Canada, the trend is similar, from 129 to 121 Mbps on the fixed network.
More people taking Internet speed tests
With more people working at home it is normal for internet speed tests to increase, but this is also because they experience a degradation in quality. The “new normal” goes through many workers and students in telework and “tele-school”, often in video conferencing, and more access to content in streaming and on social networks. And this naturally has an impact on the speed at which the content reaches the equipment.
In recent weeks, the Speedtest platform has experienced an exponential increase in the volume of tests, globally, but also very significant in Europe. This happened on fixed networks but also on mobile networks, in what the platform claims to be the biggest change ever recorded.
Note, however, that the tests carried out from a WiFi network are not always the most reliable because they may be limited by the speed of the wireless network and may not correspond exactly to the capacity of the fiber, cable or ADSL connection.
Editorial note: The news has been updated with more information.