Assessing Indonesian Internet Infrastructure Readiness in Slowing Down COVID-19

Posted on 2 April, 2020

Original post by Monash University

  • Researchers at Monash Business School have created a Global Internet Pressure map that measures the strain COVID-19 is putting on internet infrastructure.
  • Pressure on internet infrastructure is being felt in Malaysia, Italy, Iran, Spain and Sweden.

 

Jakarta, 31 March 2020 – As COVID-19 and associated self-isolation measures transform working practices internationally, new data from a commercial spin-off from Monash University reveals internet infrastructure is being put under significant pressure as rolling lockdowns begin to bite.

Dr Klaus Ackerman, Associate Professor Simon Angus, and Associate Professor Paul Raschky,  economists  at  Monash  University  and  co-founders  of KASPR DataHaus, a Melbourne-based alternative data company, conducted research on how enormous volumes of global internet activity data can be used to infer human social and economic behaviour.

As  part  of   KASPR   DataHaus,  they  have  developed  technology  that  collects   and processes, on a daily basis, billions of internet activity and quality measurements for any location in the world.

The team has produced a   Global  Internet  Pressure  map that is publicly available and is being updated regularly via the KASPR Datahaus website. Users can explore the global observations in a dashboard, and download the data for specific countries.

Using data from Thursday to Friday, 13-14 Feb 2020 as a baseline, they were able to observe changes in internet latency patterns that emerged during Thursday to Friday, 12-13  Mar  2020,  as  many  countries  entered  major  lock-downs  on  travel,  work, and business.

Associate Professor Paul Raschky explains: “We call this difference measure, between the first days of the lock-down period, and the baseline period in early February, ‘Internet Pressure’, since if it is greater than zero, it exposes latency, or speed, issues, starting to affect millions of internet users across these regions.

“While the values may seem relatively small, such as 3 per cent or 7 per cent, such a difference is far from normal, and indicates that many users are probably experiencing bandwidth congestion. More people at home means more people online – with big bandwidth appetites.

“The situation is not dissimilar to a family trying to make their way through a crowded subway tunnel. Your streaming video or video upload during teleconferencing is made up of thousands of small packets of information; these packets need to find their way down copper and fibre-optic cables across vast distances. The more streaming packets trying to make the journey at once, the more congested the pathway, and the slower the arrival time.”

By focusing on regions within countries having at least 100 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Friday 13 March, the researchers were able to examine how well each nation’s internet was    performing    given    the    rapid    escalation    in    home-based    entertainment, video-conferencing, and communication taking place online.

The findings of Monash University researchers at least provide an interesting view of what is now a global reality. When the government is faced with the option to quarantine an area, the pressure on internet infrastructure cannot be avoided.

“In most OECD countries affected by COVID-19, the internet quality is still relatively stable. Although regions throughout Italy, Spain and somewhat surprisingly, Sweden, are showing signs of strain,” Dr Raschky said.

At the time of the study, researchers say Malaysia appeared as something of an anomaly. Despite having a relatively small number of confirmed cases on 13 March, the day they accessed the latest figures, the country’s internet pressure readings were far more outsized, sitting above China, Italy, South Korea, Spain and Japan – all countries with confirmed caseloads several times larger.

What about Indonesia? Considering the increasing number of positive confirmation cases of COVID-19 which continues to grow every day is not considered able to encourage the slowing of the spread of the coronavirus in Indonesia. According to Indonesian President Spokesman Fajrul Rachman on Monday (30/3), the government is currently considering the option  “scale  social  restrictions  with  civil  emergency  or  take  social   restrictions   with  legal discipline”.

Two  weeks  ago,  the  surge  in  the  number  of  online  game  players  such  as   Mobile  Legends”   and   “Fortnite”    was  noted  to  increase  dramatically  when  the  government announced an appeal to study at home for students, not to mention when government agencies  and  offices  began  to  impose  work-at-home  policies for their  employees. In addition, based on the monitoring of several Indonesian cellular operators, there was a surge  in  data  traffic  of 7-15%.

This certainly provides an additional task for Indonesian cellular operators to continue to provide the best service after the surge in internet use after work and school recommendations  from  home,  as  stated  by  the   General   Chair   of   the    Indonesian  Information  Technology  Federation  (FTII),  Andi  Budimansyah.

That leaves us with one question, is Indonesia’s internet infrastructure ready to experience Covid-19 pressure?

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