Internet Architecture Board


COVID-19 Network Impacts Workshop, 2020

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An Internet Architecture Board virtual workshop

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a tremendous impact on people’s lives and the societies and economies around the globe. But it also had big impact on networking. With large numbers of people working from home or otherwise depending on the network for their daily lives, network traffic has surged. Internet service providers and operators have reported 20% traffic growth or more in a matter of weeks. Traffic in Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) is similarly on the rise. Most forms of network traffic have seen an increase, with conversational multimedia traffic growing in some cases more than 200%. And user time spent on conferencing services has risen by an order of magnitude on some conferencing platforms.

In general, the Internet has coped relatively well with this traffic growth. The situation is not perfect: there has also been some outages, video quality reduction, and other issues. Nevertheless, it is interesting to see how the technology, operators and service providers have been able to respond to large changes in traffic patterns.

Understanding what actually happened with Internet traffic is of course interesting by its own right. How that impacted user experience, or the intended function of the services is equally interesting. Measurements and reports of traffic situation from 2020 are therefore valuable. But it would also be interesting to understand what types of network management and capacity expansion actions were taken in general. Anecdotal evidence points to Internet and service providers tracking how their services are used, and in many cases adjusting services to accommodate the new traffic patterns, from dynamic allocation of compute resources to more complex changes.

The impacts of this crisis are also a potential opportunity to understand the impact of traffic shifts and growth more generally, or to prepare for future situations — crisis or otherwise – that impact networking. Or even allow us to adjust the technology to be even better suited to respond to changes.

The IAB is holding this workshop to convene interested researchers, network operators, and network management experts, and Internet technologists to share their experiences. The scope of the workshop includes:

  • measurements about traffic changes, user experience, service performance, and other relevant aspects
  • discussion about the behind the scenes network management and expansion activities
  • experiences in the fields of general Internet connectivity, conferencing, media/entertainment, and Internet infrastructure
  • lessons learned for preparedness and operations
  • lessons learned for Internet technology and architecture

Interested participants are invited to submit position papers on the workshop topics. The position papers form the background for actual discussions in the workshop. The workshop itself will be virtual meeting, focused on discussions based on the input rather than go through each submitted paper.

The workshop virtual meeting consists of several sessions dedicated to specific topics, such as operations experience, lessons learned on conferencing technology, or the possible impacts for Internet technology or architecture. Given the wide breadth of the topics in the workshop, individual participants may choose to participate the sessions that are relevant for their experience, but can also follow the full set of sessions.


  • Submissions Due: 9 October 2020
  • Invitations Issued by: 15 October 2020
  • Workshop Date: This is an over the Internet virtual workshop. Several sessions will be scheduled for the different topics on the week of November 9, 2020, based on input from the participants.

The Program Committee members are Jari Arkko (IAB, Ericsson), Stephen Farrell (IAB, Trinity College Dublin), Cullen Jennings (IAB, Cisco), Colin Perkins (IRTF, University of Glasgow), Ben Campbell (IAB, independent consultant), and Mirja Kühlewind (IAB, Ericsson).

Send Submissions to:

Position papers from academia, industry and others that focus on measurements, experiences, observations and advice for future are welcome. Papers that reflect experience based on deployed services are especially welcome. The organisers understand that specific actions taken by operators are unlikely going to be discussed in detail, so papers discussing general categories of actions and issues without naming specific technologies, products, or other players in the ecosystem fit well in this category as well. Papers that are proposals for technology solutions are less useful, and can simply be submitted as Internet-Drafts and discussed on relevant IETF lists.

The workshop will be by invitation only. Those wishing to attend should submit a position paper to the address above; this may take the form of an Internet-Draft.

All inputs submitted and considered relevant will be published on the workshop web page. The organisers will decide whom to invite based on the submissions received. Sessions will be organized according to content, and not every accepted submission or invited attendee will have an opportunity to present as the intent is to foster discussion and not simply to have a sequence of presentations.

Position papers from those not planning to attend the virtual sessions themselves are also encouraged. A workshop report will be published afterwards.