Internet use jumps with more office workers working from homeThe Nepal Telecommunications Authority is ready to enhance bandwidth as required, officials said.
Suraj Raj Pandey, boss of an apparel company, was home watching Special OPS on Netflix at 2 pm on Friday. It is not normal for the co-founder and CEO of Fibro to be home watching movies on a workday.
But the chief executive had a good reason. With the Covid-19 outbreak continuing its worldwide rampage, it is a good idea to work from home, he said.
The company has already shut down production for the safety of the workers, and it has been four days since Pandey began performing office work from his home at Dhumbarahi.
“We are doing remote work like team meetings from home,” he said. Pandey, 22, uses Google Hangout, Viber, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger to stay in contact with his people.
Pandey said that he was spending time watching movies on Netflix, and downloading online books at home as hanging around outside is not safe.
With more leisure time, Pandey said he was watching lifestyle videos on YouTube like home workout videos and videos showing how to cook food that helps to strengthen the immune system.
He is also making dancing challenge videos, and friends are accepting his challenge which is helping him to keep entertained at a time of social distancing. “Each individual is a possible carrier of Covid-19, so it is better to maintain social distancing,” said Pandey.
Pandey, who is a WorldLink subscriber, said his internet connection was starting to slow down. “Movies have started buffering, especially in the evenings,” he said.
Like Pandey, many people are staying home and working from the living room as one of the preventive measures to control the spread of the virus. With the government ordering all recreational areas like cinema halls, swimming pools, futsal courts, gym centres, clubs and dance bars to shut down, the only option remaining is to stay home and surf the internet.
Schools and colleges have also closed, and offices are gradually shutting down and employees are working from home. As a result, internet usage has increased in recent days, said internet service providers.
Bhoj Raj Bhatta, president of the Internet Service Providers Association, said that bandwidth consumption had increased by 22-25 percent of late with many people surfing the net at other times besides the peak hours.
“With the increase in internet use, we cannot boost the bandwidth capacity immediately as it takes time to upgrade, and that is not possible in this situation,” he said.
If consumption increases to a very high level, there are chances of a network crash, he said. “So we would like to request subscribers to use the internet in a controlled way.”
He added that rather than using the internet as a means of entertainment like watching online movies or downloading or playing online games in this situation, it would be better if it is used purely for information and communication.
“We will be doing our best to keep the network operating without interruption,” he said. The association has also decided to provide a three-day grace period on bills, he said.
Bhatta added that they held a video conference with internet service providers on Friday, and are planning to ask the government for help regarding their services.
Binay Bohra, managing director of Vianet Communication, said that the number of people complaining of a slow internet connection in the day time had increased in the past few days with a growth in users. “Internet use has increased drastically, but we cannot increase capacity in the same way currently,” he said.
“People complaining of a slow connection have increased by more than 25 percent recently,” he said. He added that internet consumption had increased by 20-25 percent, and that they were not prepared for a situation like this.
“If there is a lockdown, it will not be possible to visit the homes of customers, so we request them not to do anything to internet devices physically in case they are damaged,” he said.
Min Prasad Aryal, director of the Nepal Telecommunications Authority, said that network management will be done by identifying priorities during an emergency like this. If the situation demands enhancing bandwidth, the authority is ready to upgrade it, he said, adding that internet consumption was likely to jump in the coming days.
Laxman Yadav, director of corporate affairs at WorldLink Communications, said they would increase bandwidth according to the requirement of customers. Yadav said that consumption had increased by 25-30 percent.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of April 8, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. As of Wednesday, Covid-19 had spread to 209 countries and infected more than 1,431,706 people with 82,080 deaths. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 5,351 with 160 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 4,035 confirmed cases with 57 deaths. Nepal has so far reported nine cases, in which one patient recovered.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.