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COVID-19 – A Quick Look at Data Traffic on the UK Janet Network

Thursday, April 16th, 2020 (12:01 am) - Score 2,357
Light from fiber optic cable. 3d illustration.

We’ve talked a lot about the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis on UK consumer and business broadband ISP traffic (mostly internet data) over the past month, but today we’re going to do something a little different. We’re taking a brief look at the impact on education and research networks, specifically Janet.

At present Jisc (formerly the Joint Information Systems Committee), which is a not-for-profit company, runs the Janet Network. Something like 18 million users in education and research (science projects etc.) organisations, science parks and public sector bodies rely on this network to stay connected via anything from 1Gbps to 100Gbps links.

The Janet Network also includes 600+ direct peerings to key education and research network facilities and cloud providers (e.g. Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Apple), as well as key content providers (BBC, Facebook, Netflix, Akamai) and supporting international collaborations. As we recall the backbone capacity of the current Janet6 network is 600Gbps (up from 10Gbps in 2006), but we think it can go to 2Tbps and beyond (here).

Suffice to say that Janet carries a lot of data and it has a number of particularly big individual users. For example, the Imperial College London and University of Edinburgh have both got 100Gbps links, not to mention that masses of data from CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC) experiment needs to use the network. Janet is fast moving into the Terabit era.

Janet’s Chief Network Architect, Rob Evans, has now revealed some interesting insights into the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on their network. Below shows a graph covering 6 weeks’ worth of traffic, which runs up to Maundy Thursday (held in 2020 on 9th April), and compares the same pre-Easter period in 2019 with 2020.

NOTE: The 20th March 2020 is around day 18 below on this graph and the full lockdown started three days later on 23rd March.

janet_network_pre-easter_traffic_2020_vs_2019

During 2019 you can clearly see the natural slowdown in work toward Easter, as well as the usual weekend dips as people returned home. However, 2020 is very different and we can see that a sharp and consistent slowdown begins roughly a week ahead of the official lockdown on 23rd March. The move to work from home has had a huge impact on Janet’s traffic.

It’s interesting to see how close the weekday traffic is to the weekend traffic, perhaps as people looking after children home from school catch up with a bit of work at the weekend?,” pondered Evans. Credits to James for spotting the update.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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1 Response
  1. Jonathan says:

    Entirely predictable; the undergraduate students have all gone home. It really is that simple. You notice a speed improvement whenever the undergraduates are not around.

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