Coronavirus UK: Internet capacity may be RATIONED to prioritise ‘critical’ apps

The UK’s internet capacity may be “rationed” to prioritise critical apps and websites, experts have warned. Networks and apps have revealed how the coronavirus crisis has placed extraordinary new pressures on the country’s mobile and broadband infrastructure.

Social distancing and self-isolation mean many Brits are now accessing the internet more than ever.

In some cases it will be paramount to prioritise mission critical communication

Aalyst Paolo Pescatore

And to make matters worse, school closures mean much of the population has far more free time than ever.

Coronavirus has rapidly transformed the way many use the internet.

Mobile phone operator Vodafone told The Sun it had seen a 30 percent increase in web traffic.


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Worryingly, the peak “rush hour” traffic between 6pm and 8pm is mushrooming outwards to between noon and 9pm.

Now internet experts believe large-scale “internet rationing” projects could eventually go ahead.

This would not involve limiting users to specific amount of data.

However, this could mean prioritising important data over entertainment – such as the streaming of TV or online gaming.

Internet analyst Paolo Pescatore, of PP Foresight, told The Sun: “In some cases, it will be paramount to prioritise mission-critical communications.

“In these uncertain times, users should consider having a back up connection whether that be another SIM or data only plan.

“This will help them tether to their other connected devices in the home.”

Content providers are already slowing the internet access, by reducing the quality of videos.

Popular streaming service Netflix led the charge and was quickly followed by YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, Apple TV+ and Disney+.


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The content giants typically reduced the quality of streams by approximately 25 percent across the UK and Europe to reduce network load.

A YouTube spokesperson said: “People are coming to YouTube to find authoritative news, learning content and make connections during these uncertain times.

“While we have seen only a few usage peaks, we have measures in place to automatically adjust our system to use less network capacity.

“We are in ongoing conversations with the regulators, governments and network operators all over Europe, and are making a commitment to temporarily default all traffic in the UK and the EU to Standard Definition.

“We will continue our work to minimise stress on the system, while also delivering a good user experience.”

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