The Resiliency of the Internet, Tested

By Clint Heiden Founder, IEIC
Vinay Nagpal Executive Director, IEIC

With insights provided by IEIC Founding Members

Published in Issue 4 | July 31, 2020

Clint Heiden
Founder, IEIC

Vinay Nagpal
Executive Director, IEIC

Fifty years ago, when the underlying protocol of the Internet was in development, few of its patron architectscould have anticipated the demand and resiliency required during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Working with his colleague, Robert Kahn, Dr. Vint Cerf often referred to as one of the “Fathers of the Internet,” was among those who saw a clear and impending need to strengthen and reinforce the underlying protocols in the network infrastructure. Transmission Control Protocol/ Internet Protocol or “TCP/IP” formed the heart of the Internet design and included an inherent resilience. As we know it today, TCP/IP is the foundation of the Internet today.

While governments, businesses, and schools worldwide grapple with the stay-at-home orders, forced remote work, and wide-spread distance learning curriculums, the Internet community has been afforded a unique opportunity to see just how much use network infrastructures can handle. In these unprecedented times, populations around the world have turned to the Internet to bridge the gaps created by social isolation or the closure of schools and businesses. Now, more than ever, the Internet has become essential to our social lives, productivity, and entertainment. Usage has spiked at astronomic levels across all sectors and shows little sign of slowing.

Whether over personal applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Zoom, or business application like WebEx, Skype or Hangout, the current state of quarantine has tested bandwidths and propelled Internet Exchanges to record levels of throughput worldwide. As with the underlying personal and professional uses of applications, entertainment applications have become central to the ‘new normal’ of pandemic life. Imagine an evening without Netflix, Disney+, or Hulu while sequestered in a one-bedroom apartment for six weeks, and you will soon come to understand the significance of these outlets.So, what’s the biggest story in news today that isn’t being told?

All of these applications—personal, business, and entertainment are working. They are transporting and delivering all the information (and movies) that millions are depending on now more than ever. The underlying architecture of the Internet is supporting more uses and reaching more users than any single point in its history.

Yet, this demand doesn’t present itself without challenges. Networks with strain will have to grow and diversify by whatever means available. There was no predictive modeling for COVID-19 and little time to take preemptive measures to fortify Internet architecture. Many providers and industry partners are still working feverishly to ensure the Internet community continues to meet the exponential increase in demand 2020 has generated. As we all continue to traverse these times, it is important for us to understand how the Internet is responding and consider what changes may very well become permanent pieces in the future of communications.

Insights by IEIC Founding Members