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Broadband traffic is now a third above normal, and climbing towards Chorus' maximum capacity.

The dominant copper line and UFB fibre operator said broadband traffic on its network reached another all-time high on day two of the lockdown.

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It peaked at 3.03 terabits a second, which Chorus says is the equivalent to 600,000 movies being streamed at once.

Before various records were set over the past week amid the lockdown frenzy, the previous high was 2.6Tbps during the Rugby World Cup last year.

Chorus says 3.03Tbps is still "comfortably within" its maximum peak capacity of 3.5Tbps.

But broadband use is now 34 per cent above where it sat before the Covid-19 outbreak.

Photo / 123rf
Photo / 123rf

And it's still climbing as people swap email or shouting across the office for much more bandwidth-intensive video chat, usually over home connections that lack the efficiencies of corporate networks - which are getting bandwidth upgrades to better-handle the remote-connection surge, in many cases.

The rise in online learning will also be a factor.

So will a marked increase in (cough) recreational online pursuits on the sly.

Source / Chorus
Source / Chorus

And Chorus points out a one-off factor was involved in yesterday's surge that was not related to the outbreak: an upgrade to the hit game Call of Duty was released.

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Microsoft, Slack and Zoom have all reported record use for their video chat and collaboration tools. Microsoft Teams has now become the company's fastest-growing product.

Despite a surge in daytime traffic, the evening remains the most data-intensive time - even though streaming giant Netflix reduced its bit rate (tied to picture quality) this week to cut the amount of bandwidth the service uses by about 25 per cent.

The Herald understands Netflix made the move after consultations with Communications Minister Kris Faafoi and ISPs. Amazon's Prime Video and Google-owned YouTube have taken similar steps.

As new behaviour patterns settle during the lockdown, Chorus expects traffic levels to reach a steady state - although it hasn't said when.

Retail telcos Vodafone, Spark, 2degrees and Vocus had voice-calling congestion problems on Tuesday and Wednesday, easing later in the week, and Vodafone had broadband outages on Wednesday evening and Thursday afternoon.

Chorus said this morning it was working with the retailers to make sure the netowrk was congestion free.
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The network operator yesterday reaffirmed its full-year earnings guidance as demand for broadband ncreases during the Covid-19 crisis.

Chorus also said its capital expenditure would fall as it freezes most field work and UFB connection for the duration of the lockdown.

It also put a scheduled wholesale price increase indexed to inflation on hold.

Vodafone's use surge

All of the telcos have seen huge use surges this week.

Vodafone technology director Tony Baird said:

• Voice calls spiked to more than 70 per cent above usual levels on Monday afternoon – but are now about 60 per cent higher than usual

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• Mobile data spiked to 50 per cent higher than usual peaks – and overall traffic is now generally sitting about 20 per cent higher than usual

• Broadband internet traffic has increased about 32 per cent compared to normal levels

• Rural customers yesterday were offered unlimited data between midnight-9am starting last night, and data increased 40 per cent the first day

• VodafoneTV viewing is 20 per cent above usual levels