The data usage in Latin America has shot up suddenly, with more and more residents going online to while away their time in quarantine. Data traffic in the region increased by nearly 30% in recent days, according to Inter Press Service.
Already, some carriers in Brazil are advising people to use data responsibly. In Mexico, though, operators are gearing up to offer free voice calls as part of helping people stay in contact with their loved ones during these days of isolation.
The network congestion is casting doubt on the region’s ability to allow people to work from home, one of the actions Asian countries are increasingly recommending to help contain the outbreak of coronavirus.
Video streaming services, such as Netflix, are consuming enormous data in countries like Brazil, while in Argentina, children are being blamed for increasing data traffic. The report says some amount of data is also being spent on video-conferencing via Skype or WhatsApp.
In Argentina, internet traffic grew between 20 and 25 percent during the first week of the lockdown, according to the Argentine Internet Chamber (Cabase).
“The big difference for networks these days is not going to be so much teleworking but the younger ones, which are not attending schools and consume multimedia content and HD streaming all the time,” IPS reported a Cabase spokesperson as saying.
The Peruvian government is worried that the increased traffic could undermine its plans to encourage more people to work from home.
“If the consumption of entertainment applications continues to increase, the ability to telework will be affected over the days…,” said Rafael Muente, president of the country’s telecom regulator, Ospitel.
Ecuador and Chile experienced a 30% increase in data usage between March 16 and 19, according to PIT Chile.
Mexico’s telecom regulator, the Federal Institute of Telecommunications, has asked carriers to support the increase in demand for data. The operators are likely to remove caps on data usage, in addition to opening Wifi networks for all.