Italy Faces Increased Gaming Internet Traffic Amid Coronavirus Shutdown

Internet access in Italy is being strained by kids staying home playing Fortnite and Call of Duty

In response to the Coronavirus, the government of Italy has taken swift and drastic measures. In an effort to stem the disease, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte ordered all non-essential shops to close until March 25. Not only that, but all schools across the country have also shut down. With nowhere else to turn, it seems Italian teenagers are turning towards videogames, putting a strain on internet access in Italy.

According to a story ran by Bloomberg recently, “the amount of data passing through Telecom SpA’s national network has surged by more than two-thirds in the past two weeks.” While some of this traffic could be chalked up to adults working from home, it’s likely only a smaller piece of the pie. Typically, gaming-based traffic takes up a larger share of bandwidth, mainly due to multiple clients – often up to 64 – occupying the same server. Now multiply that by the thousands if not hundreds of thousands of kids stuck at home instead of at school.

So where is all that bandwidth going? Telecom Italia says that most of the increased online activity is going towards Fortnite or Call of Duty. However, traffic has also been spiking due to games updating. Since modern games come with constant patches, updates and new content, downloading these can put a strain on a network. Then consider the size of modern updates – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare currently sits at a file size of over 150-gigabytes due to its updates and the new Warzone mode.

While increased bandwidth demand has hit Italy the hardest, other European nations are gearing up for the same. According to the article, Telia Carrier, one of Sweden’s fiber network providers, saw traffic grow 2.7% in February, with larger demands expected in March.

In the U.S, we haven’t seen any strains on wireless or fiber-optic networks just yet. However, AT&T has taken action and is waiving its data caps during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

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Otto Kratky

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