Broadband and mobile providers say systems are coping

Companies maintain they can deal with extra usage due to rise in remote working

Broadband companies say service are able to cope with the extra demand

Broadband companies say service are able to cope with the extra demand


Irish broadband providers and mobile operators have reported no issues with their networks as workers across the country hunker down and work remotely.

While some employees have already been working from home in light of the Covid-19 outbreak, this week is when almost all those who can work remotely are being asked to do so. As of Monday afternoon, broadband firms said there had been no notable strain on networks so far.

“Our network capacity is built to withstand peaks at different times during the weekdays and weekend. As such, any usage increase seen in the daytime (caused by more people working from home, for example) will be catered for from our existing network capacity,” said a spokeswoman for Virgin Media Ireland.

“Virgin Media is well prepared for our workforce and customers to work from home, having responded to a wide range of storms in the recent past (and over the years), and having undertaken significant preparedness and rehearsal plans to deliver an effective and smart response for the ongoing management and operation across network,” she added.

Eir, Sky and Vodafone all said their networks were working fine.

Eir said it was increasing the data allowance on its Performance mobile plan for business users from 20Gb to unlimited, effective immediately. The move means that customers can use their mobile as a Wi-Fi hotspot worry-free. It also said all its consumer mobile and broadband plans are unlimited meaning that users don’t need to be concerned about data limits.

Critical support

“Our priority at the moment is to ensure network performance and resilience and we are focusing on providing critical support to frontline services like the Health Service Executive (HSE), government and beyond. We will continually monitor network capacity and take actions to maintain and enhance service levels to our 2.3 million customers over the coming weeks,” said a spokeswoman for Vodafone Ireland.

“It is critical that mobile and broadband connectivity supports the steady rise in remote working as demonstrated by a 15 per cent increase in the peak time traffic volumes. We are also in very close contact with our business customers, both large and small, to ensure they are fully supported at this time,” she added

Mobile phone networks experienced temporary service interruptions on Thursday following Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s announcement of new measures to try to contain the spread of coronavirus. However, all operators said they services were running as usual on Monday.

Three Ireland said all non-essential work had been put on hold to protect the stability of its network.

“We have already seen a significant increase in traffic since last week and we are closely monitoring the trends that are now the new norm for the network during this unprecedented time. In recent years we have seen significant growth in data usage and we are confident our network can meet customers needs during this time,” said a spokeswoman.

“The vast majority of our customers are on plans with all you can eat unlimited data, and we are also currently looking at our wider products and services portfolio to understand what other support we can provide to our customers during this time,” she added.

Online congestion

Experts in the US last week warned that office workers could swap traffic congestion for online congestion as more and more workers log in and swamp broadband networks.

With 42 million Americans able to work from home, Garner said there was a risk of overload on the home broadband network.

“People will hit congestion, just like a highway, where the speed goes from 60 miles an hour to 20,” said Lisa Pierce, a network expert with the research company.

In the UK, broadband providers such as BT also said they were not experiencing any issues despite an increase in users on their networks.

Elsewhere, Arthur Dreyfuss, president of the French telecom federation, on Monday urged remote workers to switch their mobile phone from 3 and 4G to Wi-Fi to make calls, watch movies and work, so as to avoid straining broadband networks.