Many countries in Europe introduced social distancing measures to fight the Coronavirus pandemic. As a result, the demand for Internet capacity has increased, be it for teleworking, e-learning or entertainment purposes. This could put networks under strain at a moment when they need to be operational at the best possible level. To respond to this intensified flow of internet traffic, the Commission called upon the cooperation of major platforms, BEREC, telecom operators and the public to ensure connectivity and an open internet across Europe.
The EU telecom operators indicate that there is an increased demand of connectivity. Although it is not causing network congestions thus far. As a precautionary measure, the Commission and the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC) have set up a special reporting mechanism to monitor the internet traffic situation in each Member State to be able to respond to capacity issues. The Commission and BEREC issued a statement on the issue.
In order to prevent congestion and to ensure the open Internet, which ensure everyone has access to the internet and that all traffic (i.e. voice calls, video streaming, messaging, emails, etc.) is treated equally, Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton has called on the responsibility of streaming services, operators and users. Streaming platforms are advised to offer standard rather than high definition and to cooperate with telecom operators. Telecom operators should take preventive and mitigating measures. Users can apply settings that reduce data consumption, including the use of Wi-Fi or lower resolution content.
More generally, this situation underlines the importance of continued network investment to meet the Commission's Gigabit Society objectives for 2025, in particular through 5G and fibre networks.