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Internet Architecture Board Workshop on COVID-19 Network Impacts

14 Sep 2020

We often talk about how the Internet evolves. In large part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the year 2020 represents a situation where in a relatively short time, new user demands caused fairly significant changes in what the Internet was needed for.

traffic patters
Photo by Nick Fewings

In the space of just a few weeks, traffic patterns and volumes changed, and operators and service providers had to cope to provide services in light of the changed demand.

COVID-19 has had a big impact on people’s lives and the society. Impacts beyond immediate health ones have ranged from economic activity to the way we interact with others, and from personal behaviour to services and travel. We’ve seen sharp increases in working from home, online meetings, deliveries, and Internet-based commerce and entertainment, for instance. And of course many non-online services have also changed. The situation continues to evolve, for instance with the tightening or loosening rules as the pandemic itself progresses.

How the Internet and its use have evolved in the past few months—and what those changes indicate for the Internet’s future use and evolution—are worth examining more closely. How exactly did the traffic patterns change? What was the perception of the users in how well services worked, as change continued to take place? What did the service, Internet access, and cloud providers have to do in order to respond to the demand? How easy was it to deal with a significantly grown user base in various multimedia and conferencing services? What can we learn about Internet technology and our preparedness for possible future traffic swings?

To help answer these questions, the Internet Architecture Board (IAB) is holding a workshop to collect experiences and measurements about the impact of COVID-19 on networking, and to discuss lessons learned about operation, technology, and Internet architecture. All interested researchers, operators, and technology experts are invited to share their experiences. The scope of the workshop includes:

  • Measurements about Internet traffic, user experiences, and service performance.
  • Experiences about the actions that were needed behind the scenes to perform the changes and expansions that were in many cases needed.
  • Lessons learned about current technology and how it might be changed to cope even better in the face of sudden changes.

Submissions for the workshop are due on October 9th, 2020. More information is available from the call for papers.

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