The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission says the national broadband network is coping with a 70 per cent surge in traffic generated by the COVID-19 lockdown across Australia.

However, users report issues with streaming, mobile phone dropouts, IP phone dropouts, connection failures and slower overall internet speeds that highlight widespread network contention.

It was widely reported last week that Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, had requested video streaming providers including Netflix and Stan, stream content at reduced resolutions in order to keep the network on its feet.

At the same time the ACCC gave temporary authorisation for NBN Co, Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, TPG and Vocus to collaborate on implementing what it called “unusual traffic management and capacity optimisation techniques” in order to maintain network services.

User reports suggest issues are most pronounced in areas that already experienced marginal levels of internet service, particularly regional areas, while metro areas, especially those closest to exchanges, were less affected, but were still experiencing reductions in performance, especially at peak times.

While there have been no reports of monitoring stations impacted by comms issues, it’s likely commercial, as well as security and home automation systems, are delivering reduced performance to app users thanks to network contention.

From the point of view of security end users and managers it’s likely there may need to be some tweaking to camera bitrates and re-routing of comms paths, or use of local or edge storage options, in order to ensure chains of evidence are recorded at the highest possible quality.

If security systems are sharing bandwidth with business users, implementation of procedures, including moderation of video resolution used to support video conferencing, staggering of video conferencing meetings to cover quieter times in the early mornings or late afternoons, as well as conducting video meets at home, may assist.

Other considerations include use of local distributed cloud services, switching to dedicated networks temporarily or as a long term strategy, and implementation of unused VMD or VCA functions in existing cameras to minimise unnecessary recordings.

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