Brazilian internet traffic in the pandemic: what were the impacts?

Internet traffic in Brazil has been growing significantly since the beginning of 2020, IX.BR registered the biggest growing curve since 2014. Brazilian internet was introduced in 1988 by initiative of the São Paulo State Research Support Foundation (FAPESP), the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and the National Laboratory for Scientific Computing (LNCC), becoming one of the main means of exchanging information and data in the country.

The IX.BR infrastructure manager, Julio Sirota, stated in an interview with TecMundo that the growth that occurred at the beginning of the quarantine has been resumed.

At the beginning of the quarantine period, we had an increase of about 15% in the peak of traffic, which was absorbed by the infrastructure already installed. After 2 weeks, we started to see a gradual decrease in traffic, due to the action of the main internet video providers, which reduced the bandwidth used. More recently, we have seen the resumption of growth due to the increase in connected networks and the increase in traffic from networks already in operation, ”said Sirota.

As an initiative of the Internet Steering Committee in Brazil (CGI.br) and the Ponto BR Information and Coordination Center (NIC.br), IX.br operates today both in the implementation and operation of Traffic Exchange Points in Internet (PTTs) in metropolitan regions of the country and currently has 33 locations in operation.

“The role of a PTT is to offer a network infrastructure for Autonomous Systems (AS) that are part of the internet and are present in a region that can be interconnected, exchanging traffic with lower cost and higher quality”, informed the manager.

The IX.BR initiative uses resources obtained through the registration of “.br” domains, and NIC.br is a non-profit civil entity and government participation, either through investment or special tax incentives.

Currently, the internet is present in several Brazilian homes, working through interconnected and scattered networks that obey the same protocols and are interconnected.

The computer scientist and head of the Department of Computer Systems at the Free University of Amsterdam, Andrew Stuart Tanenbaum, explains in his book Computer network that “in the mid-1980s, people began to see a set of networks as an inter-network and, later, as the internet”.

Tanenbaum also presents in his work that “the elements that form the basis of the internet are the TCP / IP reference models and the TCP / IP protocol stacks. TCP / IP enables the creation of a universal service and can be compared to the telephone system and the adoption of standard gauge by railroads in the 19th century or with the adoption of common signaling protocols by all telephone companies ”.

How does internet access work?

The access to the Brazilian and worldwide internet happens through providers. The Internet Service Provider (ISP) is the provider that offers access services to users, such as telephone companies.

Internet service providers, also known as “access providers”, are the ones who determine local, regional and national connections. In addition to improving online data transmission by users, internet servers and other ISPs.

Access occurs when a local network (internet provider) establishes a connection to another network using the TCP / IP protocol, which is a communication model based on the Internet Protocol (IP) address. This connection forms a “web” of networks that connect with each other.

How is the architecture?

The architecture of the internet is also presented and explained in the book in Tanenbaum, who initiates the process for the customer (user), who accesses the ISP through a telephone line. According to the author, the modem that is located inside the PC converts digital signals from the computer into analog signals that pass through the telephone system.

Overview of the internet (Andrew Stuart Tanenbaum)

“These signals are transferred to the ISP’s Point of Presence (POP), or point of presence, where they are removed from the telephone system and injected into the ISP’s regional network. From that point on, the system is completely digital and packet-switched ”, describes Tanenbaum.

ISPs are telephone companies, and POPs are points of presence that today we find largely with optical fiber. According to Tanenbaum: “if the ISP is the local telephone company, the POP will probably be located in the telephone switching center where the customer’s telephone wiring ends. If the ISP is not the local telephone company, the POP may be some switching centers further away ”.

The next part is the regional network, which acts as a connection centralizer and is run by the internet service providers themselves. For Tanenbaum, “the ISP’s regional network consists of interconnected routers in the various cities served by the ISP. If the package is destined for a host served directly by the ISP, it will be delivered to the host. Otherwise, the package will be forwarded to the backbone of the ISP ”.

The next connection is with network operators backbones, which have thousands of routers connected by fiber optics and receive different types of packets. According to Tanenbaum, “large corporations and host services that control groups of servers (server farms, machines that can serve thousands of web pages per second) often connect directly to the backbone”. There are several types of connections, so the packages have destinations and jump between different backbones, which are only possible by connecting the backbones to NAPs.

According to Tanenbaum, “basically, a NAP is a room full of routers, at least one per backbone. A LAN in the room connects all routers, so that packets can be forwarded from any location. backbone to another. In addition to being interconnected to NAPs, backbones larger ones have numerous direct connections between their routers, a technique known as forming private pairs ”.

The increase in internet use in Brazil

According to data from PNAD Continuous ICT 2018 from IBGE, the number of households with internet access has been increasing. In 2017, a total of 74.9% was registered, and in 2018, the percentage of households went to 79.1%. In the urban area, the percentage went from 80.2% to 83.8%, and in the rural area, from 41% to 49.2%.

In the survey, a gradual growth was also identified in both types of connection, mobile broadband (3G / 4G) and fixed. In households that use the internet, the growth was 78.6%, in 2017, to 80.2%, in 2018. The percentage of fixed broadband also showed an increase of 73.5%, in 2017, to 75, 9% in 2018.

In the data presented by Anatel, which refer to the accesses and the density of Fixed Broadband – Multimedia Communication Service (SCM) – which are sent by the service providers, there was growth since 2007, reaching a total of 32,994,902 in April 2020.

In relation to the data on the evolution of accesses and density of Mobile Telephony in the country, accesses grew from 2005 to 2015 (when it reached a peak). However, since 2015 accesses have been falling, but remained above 200 million and reached a total of 225,583,832 in April 2020.

With the increase in the number of accesses and their evolution since the implementation of the internet, one of the main concerns is the quality of the services they provide in Brazil.

The quality of the Brazilian internet

According to report Digital Life Abroad by InterNations of 2019, Brazil is 50th in the ranking of the “best and worst countries in digital life”. The survey identified the best and worst countries according to the participants’ satisfaction rating, which was divided into factors and on a scale of 1 to 7.

The analysis considers unrestricted access to online services, such as social media; availability of government or administrative services online; ease of obtaining a local cell phone number, paying without money and having access to high speed internet at home.

The quality of the internet in Brazil, currently, can be verified by monitoring operational performance indicators that the National Telecommunications Agency (Anatel) receives from service providers.

On December 23, 2019, Anatel published the Resolution No. 717, which approves the Telecommunications Services Quality Regulation – RQUAL. The regulation will standardize the rules of fixed broadband, fixed and mobile telephony and pay TV. In addition to bringing indicators that will accurately demonstrate the quality conditions that consumers face.

The new regulation is not yet fully in force, Anatel continues to carry out monitoring through the previous indicators, which are made available by service providers. These follow the indicators that have monthly associated goals in each of the geographic areas that are defined in the regulation within the area of ​​operation.

The general monthly evolution of the achievement of targets is provided by Anatel and shows a variation over the years. In 2020, the achievement of targets reached 74.2% in January, with an increase in February, with 76.8%, but a decrease in March, which closed with 73.5%.

With mobile telephony, the fulfillment of 2020 targets started in January, with 28.6%, followed by an increase in February, with 33.2%, and a fall in March, which reached 30.5%.

The quality of the internet has also been observed during the pandemic phase, as covid-19 has brought the need for new ways of communication and information exchange. Users and companies have largely concentrated on the digital medium and used the internet to keep these exchanges going.

The impacts of covid-19 on the internet

The new pandemic coronavirus reached various sectors of society. Authorities in several countries have adopted an administrative quarantine act to stem the spread of the virus.

In Brazil, due to this model, many companies have adopted the home office as a new working condition, so that workers could produce directly from their own homes. Schools, universities and colleges in different parts of the country canceled classes in person – as a measure aimed at keeping people in quarantine.

Various sectors of commerce also closed their doors in Brazil, following the administrative act of the governments, which requested the quarantine regime by the cities. All the measures increased the number of people who access the internet through personal networks in several houses.

IX.BR, which is among the largest Traffic Exchange Points in the world, showed on March 18 a considerable increase, generating spikes in traffic on the Brazilian internet.

The IX.BR infrastructure manager stated: “on March 18, IX.br surpassed the 10 Tb / s peak of internet traffic. The following week, on March 23, it reached 11Tb / s peak traffic “.

As of the last week of February 2020, traffic in São Paulo also showed an increase in the afternoon and evening, but soon afterwards there was a decrease.

“São Paulo represents about 75% of the aggregated traffic of IX.br, served as a basis for an analysis of traffic behavior. In it, it is interesting to note that, in the beginning of the quarantine, the use of the internet during the afternoons increased, as well as the peak of the night, and gradually the traffic in the afternoon was decreasing ”, analyzed Sirota.

Increase of internet traffic in SP

SP

The infrastructure manager explained that with the increase in traffic, a permanent investment in the area is necessary to house all the numbers that have been received by the networks. “IX.br traffic has been growing at around 60% per year, and investment in infrastructure is continuous and challenging, since IX.br in São Paulo is the largest in the world in terms of number of interconnected networks and the second in traffic, which leads us to seek solutions that meet the requirements of the operation “, informed Sirota.

IX.BR works in partnership with several companies, such as data centers, operators, ISPs, academic and government entities for the establishment of Network Interconnection Points (PIX). The companies provide PIX Centrais with space, energy and a wired fiber connection, and NIC.br installs and operates network and optical transport equipment to create the network in the metropolitan region (up to 60 km).

The role of the initiative is given by the possibility of concentrating the Traffic Exchange Points (PTTs) of content providers in regions where there is a large concentration of networks, making a direct connection with the Internet Access Providers (ISPs).

“By establishing a PTT in a region with a high concentration of networks, such as São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro, we created the opportunity for networks of content providers (Google, Netflix etc.) to find networks of content consumers, typically Internet Service Providers. Internet Access (ISPs) The important thing about this type of initiative is that once connected to a PTT, the ISP can access a large number of content, just as the content provider will reach a very large number of ‘customers’ “commented Sirota.

The Center for Studies and Research in Network and Operations Technology (Ceptro.br), which is also part of NIC.BR, is the area responsible for initiatives and projects that aim to improve the internet infrastructure in the country and contribute to its development.

One of Ceptro’s initiatives is to measure the quality of the Brazilian internet through independent measurements, such as the Traffic Measurement System (SIMET), which actively contributes with information to improve the networks of access providers.

At the report published by Ceptro from the analysis of several network quality parameters, the increase in traffic did not show a quality degradation. The reports are updated weekly, check the impact of the containment measures due to the pandemic and consider quality metrics based on the measurements made by the SIMET collection instruments.

The document provides an aggregated overview of the volume of measurements performed and quality metrics (Download, Upload, Latency, Packet Loss and Jitter). According to the report, in order to highlight the quality of the network and the connections for access to research, observation of any deterioration in the latency metrics (time taken by an information packet to go to the destination and back, measured in milliseconds – ms) is used. and packet loss (proportion of information packets that are lost during transmission).

The analysis sought to identify the indicators of overload, congestion or delays in communications in digital media, especially of TCP / IP networks, which are the protocols that the systems and applications used are largely based on.

Paulo Kuester Neto, the project analyst at NIC.br, informed that “the report indicates that there was a variation in the quality metrics observed in relation to the pre-quarantine period, but without being able to observe an indication of systemic problems, in a way showing the structural resilience”.

The two main factors of the studies observed in general were the increase in the number of measurements made by users, which according to Neto “may indicate that users migrating from the office to their home had an adaptation phase between the uses and the demands for this new working model and made use of the internet quality assessment tool “.

And also a preventive measure that was carried out “in an agreement between the providers of streaming and the National Telecommunications Agency to reduce the resolution of the videos transmitted. This measure was taken based on patterns and variations in content consumption observed in other countries ”, mentioned Neto.

He specified that for the study 970,676 measurements were collected and the metric of download which demonstrates the effects of the measure: “the graphs of the download in relation to last mile connections, they show a little of this effect, with a percentage variation being noticed mainly in the period from 15 to 24 March – when the strategy to reduce the quality of streams. During this period, we also observed an increase of 14 thousand to, around 20 thousand daily measurements ”, highlighted Neto.

Evolution of the Speed ​​of download and Upload in Brazil

download and upload

On March 20, Anatel published with the provider companies a public commitment to keep Brazil connected during the pandemic, which aims to ensure the continuity of the services, especially those related to public health and safety, addressing consumer difficulties and disseminating information about covid-19 to the population.

News that are revolutionizing the internet

Internet

Currently, there are several initiatives that seek to bring a revolution to the services that make up the internet in the world. Several creations that involve it are being studied and tested in several countries.

5G has been one of the main developments in wireless broadband. The creation of networks 5G promises to take a mobile broadband range with a high standard of connection speed and simultaneous users.

The new networks work through radio waves, just like the previous ones, but the difference is that the spectrum covered is larger than the previous ones and is between 600 MHz and 700 MHz, 26 Ghz and 28 Ghz and 38 Ghz and 42 GHz.

The installation of 5G networks promises a reduction in energy consumption, which makes the entire infrastructure a sustainable and ecological initiative. In addition, with the reduction of latency time, there is a possibility of communication between autonomous vehicles that can prevent automobile accidents and also provide remote surgeries that can be performed by robots in medical environments.

5G will also create an expansion in the concept of “Internet of Things”, since it promotes the possibility of several devices connecting at the same time.

The company of special transport services and aerospace systems SpaceX has been one of the visionaries of high speed internet in the world. The company opened the Internet service Starlink (with 540 Starlink satellites in orbit).

According to the official website of the project, Starlink demonstrates the performance that surpasses that of the internet via traditional satellite and has a global network without soil infrastructure limitations. In addition, it provides “ihigh-speed broadband internet in places where access is unreliable, expensive or completely unavailable. Starlink targets service in the northern United States and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to almost global coverage worldwide by 2021 ”.

In addition, one of the novelties is that the speeds provided by Starlink will be up to one gigabit per second in latencies from 25 milliseconds to 35 milliseconds.

THE Internet of Things is a concept that aims to connect the physical to the digital world and connect objects or equipment to the internet. In the concept, all objects can communicate with each other and also with human users, through software and intelligent sensors that transmit data to an internet network.

The result of the Internet of Things is to produce a connected and intelligent world so that everyone benefits from the online network, without performing services manually.

One example of everyday life is the tools that make up a home, such as vacuum cleaners, lamps, televisions, stereos and cars that can operate only by voice command. The impacts of these innovations is that all of this can work only on the internet, without needing a human being performing a function for something to work. This makes the world increasingly digital and dependent on the Internet.

One of the most recent events that will impact the world internet is the own internet created by Russia, known as Runet, which has been tested since 2019. The Russian government has been testing an internal internet, which will have the possibility to cut access with outside networks from the country.

The world internet today is composed of thousands of networks, in which packets from all over the world pass, connected by points that make the data routing. With the creation of its own internet, in Russia, in addition to the possibility of controlling everything that happens inside the country, all data entering and leaving may be blocked by the government.

With this creation, the data that pass within the country circulates only within that region, and not worldwide. The initiative is similar to that of other countries, such as China, already doing, presenting the control internet access and information that is disseminated, used and shared (only) within the country.

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