Communications in Romania during the state of emergency: fixed internet and data traffic increased by 30%

During the 60-day state of emergency, the data and internet traffic increased on average by 26%, i.e. 30% on fixed networks and 5% on mobile networks, while voice traffic increased on average by 11%, compared to the 60 days preceding the initiation of the state of emergency. “In the context of the state of emergency and of the social distancing requirements, communication networks allowed us to keep in touch with our dear ones, to work safely from home, to learn online, in short, to stay connected together. Seeing that over 2000 PB of data were transferred through the communications networks in our country in the 2 months of the state of emergency, I think that it is only now, in the aftermath of such a straining period,  that we all realize the essential role that communications have in our lives and how important it is to have a sustainable infrastructure. Romania can be proud of the way in which the operators managed networks during this whole period”,declared Sorin GRINDEANU, President of ANCOM.

Infographic available here.

Voice and data volume consumed during the state of emergency

During 16 March - 15 May 2020, Romanian users consumed 1.8 thousand PB internet and data traffic (+30% compared to the previous period) on the fixed networks, respectively 0.2 thousand PB (+5%) on mobile networks. The more pronounced increase in data traffic on fixed networks may be related to the fact that most users were at home during the state of emergency, using the Wi-Fi connection of the fixed internet router rather than the mobile internet, including for the consumption of voice or data on mobile devices.

”As we estimated since mid-March, the demand for electronic communications services registered exceptional upward trends in the 60 days of state of emergency in Romania. However, the increases were tempered by the European Commissioner Thierry Breton’s call for a responsible transmission and use of video streaming services such as Netflix, Youtube or Facebook, so that the share of this type of traffic on mobile networks decreased from 55% to 49% during this period”, said Eduard LOVIN, Vicepresident of ANCOM. 

Regarding voice traffic, during the state of emergency, the call traffic increased by 11%, exceeding 13 billion minutes (97% on mobile networks).  

Peak hours during the state of emergency

ANCOM estimates show that, during the state of emergency, the busiest hours in terms of fixed and mobile communications (internet and telephony) consumption, were:

Ø  From 18.00 to 19.00, on 22 March 2020 – when the highest internet and data consumption was registered on the fixed networks: 2.3 PB

o    The moment the first restrictions imposed by the Military Ordinance no. 2 on measures to prevent the spreading of COVID-19 were established (closing malls, suspending the activity of dental clinics and forbidding the entry in Romania of foreign citizens and stateless persons).

Ø  From 11.00 to 12.00, on 23 March 2020 - the highest voice consumption: 35 million call minutes

o    The moment restrictions on the circulation of persons were imposed as per the Military Ordinance no. 2 on measures to prevent the spreading of COVID-19; the President of Romania delivered a press statement;

o    A similar consumption peak was registered on 19 April 2020 (from 11.00 to 12.00), a traditionally busy hour on the first Easter day.

Ø  From 20.00 to 21.00, on 25 March 2020 - the highest internet and data consumption on mobile networks: 0,25 PB

o    The moment restrictions on the circulation of all persons outside their homes and the cancellation of some flights were imposed as per the Military Ordinance no. 3 on measures to prevent the spreading of COVID-19.

The data provided by the operators show that  they generally complied with ANCOM's recommendation not to suspend services for bill payment failure, so that even users with outstanding invoices and whose services should have been suspended under normal conditions could benefit from access to internet and telephony services during the state of emergency.

ANCOM analysed the data reported by providers at the end of May 2020, comparing the traffic values during the state of emergency in Romania (16 March – 15 May 2020), with those from the previous 2-month period (16 January – 15 March 2020).

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