Telecom News

Corona Crisis: Can the Internet Cope With the Shift to Home Office?

March 14, 2020 - Ralf Beyeler

The corona scare has driven many employees to work from home. Will this sudden shift push Swiss Internet providers’ networks past their limits? Ralf Beyeler, telecom expert at independent online comparison service, analyses the situation.

The measures taken by authorities and employers to combat the corona virus is driving more and more employees to home offices. This is resulting in intensive Internet use shifting from business centers to suburbs and rural areas as employees use the Internet to communicate with co-workers, customers and suppliers. Could this shift result in Internet outages as some Swiss Internet users believe?

“There is a real risk of telecom networks being pushed past their capacity in isolated cases,” according to the evaluation by telecom expert Ralf Beyeler. But there is no reason to panic. In most cases, the capacity of telecom networks is sufficient to handle the higher data traffic without becoming overloaded. But regional backups resulting in slow connection speeds are possible, depending on the available telecom infrastructure.”

There are two main factors which determine the risk of Internet backups: The Internet connection technology used and the use of remote access connections.

Internet connection technology

The Internet connection technology used by home-based employees is the deciding factor. Users who connect to the Internet via either optical fiber connections or cable TV connections (like UPC or Quickline) are not likely to experience capacity-based backups, believes Ralf Beyeler. The risk to home offices of these networks experiencing overloads is marginal.

In many cases, this also applies to users who connect to the Internet via copper phone lines. It is possible that phone line connections will experience low data transfer speeds, but this is not a new problem.

Mobile telecom networks, on the other hand, can reach the limits of their capacity if many home-based employees use them to connect to the Internet. Backups may occur in some locations.

Remote access and infrastructure

In addition to the Internet connection technology used, the tasks for which home-based workers use the Internet is also a key factor.

Remote access – connecting to a host computer (in your office, for example) from a remote computer via the Internet – is data intensive. This includes the use of remote access software like TeamViewer or Google’s Chrome Remote Desktop. Because the graphic output of the remote computer must be constantly transferred across the Internet, remote access requires the transfer of large volumes of data. High volumes of data are transferred over both the host computer’s and the remote computer’s Internet connections. If the employer’s Internet connection does not have a high enough capacity to deal with remote access from multiple employees, a backup may result.

Carrying out regular Internet-based tasks from home offices without the use of remote access is not likely to lead to backups. Remote access is not necessary when work is carried out directly on a home-based computer rather than remotely on an office-based computer.

Home office is less data intensive than video streaming and gaming

Compared to standard home office activities, leisure activities like video streaming and gaming are much more data intensive. Residential areas can expect a sharp spike in daytime Internet use as corona virus prevention drives employees to home offices. But data-transfer levels during the preventative period will not likely be higher than those on average evenings or cold winter days – when many people stream video or play online video games.

More on this topic:
Internet connection technologies explained
Comprehensive Internet plan comparison

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Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at and also covers other areas of personal finance.