Surging Traffic Is Slowing Down Our Internet

Internet service providers said they could handle the deluge of traffic but were adding capacity. Verizon, Cox and AT&T said they were building more cell sites to strengthen mobile networks, increasing the number of fiber connections on their network backbones, and upgrading the routing and switching technology that lets devices talk to one another and share an internet connection.

Orange, formerly France Télécom, has doubled its capacity inside undersea internet cables. In Italy, where home internet use is up 90 percent, Telecom Italia said its technicians continued to make repairs and add capacity. Vodafone, one of Europe’s largest networks operators, said it had increased its capacity 50 percent in recent weeks through a mix of software and the addition of more equipment in the field.

“We’re seeing some signs of stress,” AT&T’s chief executive, Randall Stephenson, said in an interview on CNN on Sunday. “We’re having to go out and do some augmentation of networks, and so we’re sending our employees out there to get that done, but right now the network is performing quite well.”

To prevent clogged networks, Europe has taken the most aggressive steps.

Last week, Mr. Breton, the European Union commissioner, discussed reducing the bitstreams of videos with Reed Hastings, the chief executive of Netflix; Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google; and Susan Wojcicki, the head of YouTube. The companies agreed, as did Amazon for its Prime Video streaming service and Twitch, its online gaming platform.

Many of the companies then went further. On Tuesday, Netflix decided to switch its high-definition video streams in India, Australia and Latin America to slightly lower quality to reduce the traffic they create there by 25 percent, and YouTube said it would make all global streams standard definition.

“We continue to work closely with governments and network operators around the globe to do our part to minimize stress on the system during this unprecedented situation,” YouTube said in a statement.

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