New Zealanders rely on internet and phones to stay connected



Vodafone network status report: New Zealanders rely
on internet and phones to stay connected – Week 2
Lockdown

Vodafone network status
report: New Zealanders rely on internet and phones to stay
connected – Week 2 Lockdown

By Tony Baird, Wholesale
& Infrastructure Director, Vodafone NZ


We’re continuing to see
significant increases in calls and data on the Vodafone
networks as we head into the second weekend of level 4
lockdown.

At Vodafone, we have hundreds of
technology staff working from their homes around the clock
to ensure our customers stay connected – with most network
traffic continuing at between 20-100% higher than February
levels….with the exception of international roaming!

Overall our network status is green, and while we do
have rural some cell sites showing full utilisation, we are
managing this with various technology and traffic management
initiatives.

Compared to February 2020 levels,
we’re seeing:


To handle these sustained
extra demands, we’ve been adding more capacity and
changing the way we manage voice and data traffic across our
complex network of fibre optic cables, interconnect and
peering links, international links, mobile base stations,
core exchanges, and customer connectivity, security contact
centres, and unified comms technologies. This includes
investing time, resources and money into optimising capacity
for our customers.

You hopefully will only see the
benefits of these changes – and we’re working incredibly
hard in the background to keep Kiwis connected at all times
of the day, no matter how many other people are online in
the same area.

But if connections seem slower than
usual, it’s worth checking that your Wi-Fi is set up
correctly, or thinking about how many other people in your
household are accessing the internet or streaming data –
and we’ll continue to share tips to help you manage usage
and maximise your personal home Wi-Fi.

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Changing behaviours during level 4
lockdown

Usually, a large number of New
Zealanders travel from their homes to their workplaces, so
we make sure we have the most mobile capacity where they are
– in town centres, near offices, shopping malls and so on.
In this scenario we don’t need as much capacity during the
day near the places where they live.

But COVID-19
has turned this pattern of behaviour completely on its head.
As a result, we are seeing data use start much earlier in
the day – and overall around 20% higher data over our
fixed and mobile networks, a whopping 60% more mobile voice
calls, and 30% more PXT (picture) messages sent.

While last week we were seeing fixed data up 32%
overall, this has settled down as Kiwis spend more time at
home and use their home Wi-Fi connections.

After
announcing that we’d support our customers to stay connected via
a range of initiatives
, we’re proud we can offer most
customers access to unlimited broadband at some point every
day for no extra cost – so we’re managing these
increased demands within our operating cadence.

Adapting to traffic peaks
When we
talk about network capacity, think of a road – the more
lanes on a highway, the more cars can drive down it. So
while highways in the city can transport thousands of cars
each hour, a gravel road in the country takes fewer cars and
is slower. And when there’s lots of cars, there are
traffic jams. That’s capacity.

Now imagine lots of
roads of different lengths and widths. Rather than trying to
force all the cars down one road, you want to spread them
across a range of routes where possible to reduce
congestion. Or we might need to build more new roads, via
increased investment in network infrastructure.

And
as the volume of cars changes throughout the day, our
network traffic shifts – just as you might choose to drive
down different roads to avoid travel delays.

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So when
one part of the network is very busy, we can try redirect
some of the traffic down a different road that isn’t so
busy. Or we can try to reduce the number of cars/users
placing strain on the roads/network at any one time.

This does mean that parts of the network are incredibly
busy – like our rural broadband infrastructure, which runs
over a mobile connection instead of a fibre network in urban
areas. Which is why we need to keep data caps on during the
day, so that everyone else who relies on that same mobile
cell site for connectivity can also get online for essential
work or education purposes.

New Zealand’s
traffic peaks

Because video streaming platforms
like Netflix and YouTube, or online games, take up the most
amount of data, our busiest times are in the evenings when
most Kiwis turn on their TVs or turn online for
entertainment.

Our network traffic builds throughout
the day – with 9pm usually being our busiest time.

However with COVID-19 meaning Kiwis are now working or
learning from home, we’re seeing traffic start to build
earlier, from 9am onwards and increase throughout the day.
Overall we’re seeing 20-30% higher levels of data than we
saw in February.

Likewise, with people picking up
the phone instead of talking to their work colleagues,
we’re seeing around 60% higher phone calls throughout the
day – and doubling to +100% at busy times (11am daily
being the busiest time). VodafoneTV viewing is consistently
20% above pre-lockdown levels.

Yesterday at 7pm, we
hosted our first Vodafone Lounge Jams with Tiki Taane, a
live stream concert series featuring some of our best home
grown Kiwi talent. Facebook traffic is up 20%, showing Kiwis
are turning to these sorts of activities on social media to
connect, and we’re looking forward to next week’s
concert featuring Hollie Smith.

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While our network
infrastructure is designed to support peaks, sustained
higher levels of calls and data add a whole range of extra
costs.

International roaming declines to
almost zero

It’s not all growth, as on the
flipside, international travel has reduced to essentially
zero so it’s inevitable this will also mean international
roaming is down -99%, from both an inbound and outbound
perspective.

We expect few Kiwis will travel
overseas during our traditional winter peak period – and
there will be a lack of tourists entering New Zealand using
their international phone provider’s agreement with
Vodafone NZ, or buying a travel SIM.

Thankfully
Aotearoa almost got through the summer peak of international
tourists travelling here, but the roaming impact will depend
on how long travel restrictions are in place.

Working hard, to keep you
connected

Overall, our engineers are doing a
brilliant job adapting our fantastic network to these
changing, and unprecedented circumstances.

We have
the technology and the expertise needed to keep New Zealand
connected during these difficult times – and we’ll keep
investing in a wide range of measures to keep our technology
infrastructure stable for customers.

Stay safe, stay
home, stay
connected.

© Scoop Media

 



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