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Network Intelligence Report 2020

A detailed report on service provider traffic and consumption trends in the year of COVID-19

The World At Home: The Nokia Deepfield Network Intelligence Report 2020

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The World At Home: The Nokia Deepfield Network Intelligence Report 2020

2020 was a year like no other for communications service providers. With COVID-19 driving radical shifts in customer behaviour, almost every service provider saw huge increases in traffic across their networks. 

Nokia Deepfield helped our customers to monitor the changes as they happened. Drawing on traffic data kindly provided by many of our customers worldwide, as well as data from our own patented Deepfield Genome, we’ve compiled our insights into one definitive 2020 report. 

The report traces network traffic trends throughout the year as lockdowns started and eased, and as people adopted new digital habits for work, play and relaxation – some of which may now become permanent.

Read the full 50-page report, get the Executive Summary, or browse highlights and insights below.

​​​​​​​COVID-19 impact on 2020 network traffic trends

As lockdowns got underway, many networks experienced traffic growth of 30-50% in just a few weeks. Just one month later, peering traffic had doubled as on-net caches were exhausted.

By September, traffic levels had stabilized around 20%-30% above pre-pandemic levels, raising questions for service providers about how much new capacity to engineer into networks going forwards.

​​​​​​​COVID-19 impact on 2020 network traffic trends

Video streaming traffic trends 2020

Demand for streaming video skyrocketed at the start of lockdown, with service providers experiencing anywhere between 50% and 80% growth in streaming traffic, dominated by Netflix.

The rising traffic put added pressure on networks, prompting regulators in the EU to consider restrictions on streaming speeds. Voluntary speed reductions by video providers and an increase in off-net video delivery – from the internet – allowed service provider networks to better manage this strain. 

By September, HD streaming had been restored everywhere, and both peak and aggregate streaming traffic had stabilized at 25-30% above pre-lockdown levels.

Video streaming traffic trends 2020

Videoconferencing traffic trends 2020

The first week of lockdown brought an astonishing 350% jump in videoconferencing traffic as people switched to working from home. This resulted in the increase of upstream traffic – in some cases up to 30%. 

Zoom was the clear favorite provider in the early months of the pandemic, with significant use even at weekends. By September, however, Microsoft Teams was beginning to eat into Zoom’s dominance.

Videoconferencing traffic trends 2020

Gaming traffic trends 2020

Gaming traffic more than doubled in the first week of lockdown. Demand for glitch-free gameplay was exacerbated by downloads of new releases and updates, including Call of Duty: Warzone in March and Call of Duty Season 6 in September.

By September 2020, gaming had grown to be around 10% of all traffic on some service provider networks.

Gaming traffic trends 2020

DDoS traffic trends 2020

New customer behaviours bring new security risks to the network, and 2020 was no exception. By April, traffic caused by distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks had increased by 40% over pre-lockdown levels.

While many attacks can be correlated with the rise in gaming, other factors were also at play, including increased abuse of North American and European DDoS amplifiers – potentially via growing use of IoT botnets. 

DDoS traffic trends 2020

Get the full report: Networks in 2020

Our exclusive report explores the impact of the pandemic in fully-illustrated detail – from changing traffic patterns to the way service providers and content providers responded.

2020 was a rollercoaster for the year for the internet, with COVID-19 placing huge and unforeseen demands on service provider networks. 

Download it now and discover:

  • Why the networks were surprisingly well prepared for the advent of COVID-19
  • Traffic trends throughout the year in four key areas:
  • Video streaming
  • Videoconferencing and VPNs
  • Gaming
  • DDoS attacks
  • The evolving roles played by transit, peering, CDN and access networks
  • Key lessons and takeaways for communications service providers