Would the network withstand the tremendous load of traffic?
“Norway is online”, says Martin Højriis Kristensen, product director at GlobalConnect.
When large numbers of people were forced to work from home and attend classes online, while people were quarantined due to the virus, the pressure on the infrastructure of the Internet providers increased significantly. Although we may not think about it, it is not entirely unproblematic when millions of people are streaming their favorite series on Netflix – at the exact same time.
Although it is a distant thought for many Norwegians, the internet can crash. This was, among other things, what happened at Harvard when Mark Zuckerberg launched his first website FaceMash as a young second-year student. For most countries, this is usually only a topic when there are major world events such as the final of the soccer World Cup or the Super Bowl in the USA. It is still peanuts compared to the situation that arose in March 2020.
Norway’s fiber network has good capacity
When Norwegians hoarded toilet paper at the start of the pandemic-induced lockdowns, internet providers all over the world worked to keep up with the traffic. The EU pleaded with Netflix and YouTube to reduce video quality. HD quality was no longer a privilege you could afford. Thus, Netflix and YouTube users had to endure 25 per cent poorer image quality. But we didn’t really have to do that. The reason for this is that the operators in Norway have invested heavily in fiber-based infrastructure for many years that tie the whole country together. We have good capacity, with two nationwide and many larger regional networks that are connected. These networks are built with a large degree of excess capacity, and several simultaneous routes, which makes it possible to handle even fairly large jumps in capacity demand. Either immediately, or at very short notice.
GlobalConnect operates a network that spans five countries, and a very large proportion of Nordic internet traffic goes through our network all the time. We did see an increase in traffic in 2020, but nothing that has been problematic in any ways. It also means that working from home, has been mostly unproblematic for most Norwegian companies during the lockdowns.
Norwegian business leaders believe working from home have worked well
A survey conducted among Norwegian top managers shows that as many as 43 percent say that working from home have worked to a high or very high degree. Stable network connections (73 per cent) and ongoing contact with colleagues (68 per cent) are the two things that the majority of top managers point out as important for making home offices work. The Norwegian fiber network has delivered the Norwegian home office.
Norway may at times have lacked masks, hand-sanitizer, and the necessary infection control equipment, but much of the Norwegian preparedness also worked well. In any crisis, it is essential that critical infrastructure works. The Norwegian network did this because we network providers had good preparedness and were prepared to be able to handle large amounts of traffic.
Thus, although much could be improved, a lot also worked very well. Let’s not forget that when we eventually look back and evaluate the corona crisis.