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Indian internet exchanges spike in traffic amid COVID-19

Internet exchanges in India have been recording significant rises in peak traffic as more and more people start working from home due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Extreme IX, Mumbai IX, and the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) have been recording sharp increases of up to 100Gbps in traffic. Note that these exchanges don’t necessarily capture all internet traffic in India, but do count for major peered companies like Facebook, Google, Cloudflare, and Amazon Web Services, which serve a significant share of this traffic.

User JB700 on India Broadband Forum first spotted the surge on Extreme IX, noting that his internet speed was limited to a fifth of his advertised 100Mbps connection when doing a test on a Singapore sever last night (I observed a similar slump in my 125Mbps connection). As the weeks go and more people start working from home and relying on home connections, this surge is likely to increase even further.

Here’s Extreme IX’s traffic over one month (updated data). Notice how the smaller peak exceeds the higher peak as the days go by; this means that traffic during working hours (a little time after people wake up) has increased during peak times by more than 100Gbps on this exchange alone.

The same applies for Mumbai IX, which bills itself as the largest internet exchange in India, which saw its highest traffic in a month on 19 March (yesterday, as of this piece coming out). And note that this graph uses terabits per second as a unit, so the peaks here are likely unprecedented — over 2.4 terabits per second yesterday. Compare this to the same exchange’s traffic last April, and you should get an idea of the scale here. That month, traffic never peaked beyond a terabit per second.

Even NIXI, which deals with a lot less data (because it doesn’t partner with CDNs or companies like Google and Amazon Web Services) recorded a slight uptick:

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It is unclear if Indian broadband providers will be able to deal with a mass surge in home broadband traffic in the coming days. An Economic Times report says that demand for such connections has been growing in the last few days. Even with data caps, home broadband providers usually have a contention ratio of 20:1, sharing a single connection over twenty households. The strain on individual connections is likely to increase as more of these connections start seeing heavy use in the coming days.

Written By

I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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