The COVID-19 outbreak is causing surge of bandwidth demand due to sudden explosion in remote working and remote studying. Service providers were largely well equipped to meet the 30% - 40% increase in bandwidth demand on their network (1), and the planned capacity increases for an entire year were reached during the height of the pandemic. The “pandemic bandwidth” increases 47% in the first quarter of 2020 (2)

Adding more network capacity is a top priority for most service providers / carriers, with Telecom CAPEX to see 1% CAGR by 2020 with wireless, particularly 5G,  will be the major area of investment(3). In line with the increase in Telecom spending, COVID-19 pandemic may also push data center spending upward this year, as cloud-based services are starting to become essential (3)

In addition, service providers and vendors are also pressurized to provide reliable network as a platform for critical applications such as telemedicine, online learning, and high definition in-home entertainment(4)

The internet itself, just turned fifty-one years old few months ago, has been relying on optical fiber for the last few decades as vital part of internet backbones and cellular-mobile infrastructure including the upcoming 5G technology due to its characteristics in accommodating bandwidth and distance performance, network growth and reliability. Optical fiber is commonplace in the largest internet backbones, but much less so in the last-mile connectivity to provide reliable broadband services to the end-customers (both in wireless and Fiber-To-The-Home). 

Investing in “optical fiber to the last mile” is proven to be the gate opener for the future, much beyond pandemic era. While we might see the flattening of “pandemic bandwidth growth” when the lockdown is eased, the new normal is formed. The new normal in which is predicted to accelerate the Internet-of-Things (IoT) era will push the boundary of telecom network capability to the next level, as more and more human activities require reliable broadband services than ever.    


Ilham Nandana

About the author:

Telecom strategy manager at Prysmian Group, with global experience and proven track record in business development. Currently based in Milan.