Belgian National Internet Exchange BNIX registers unseen data traffic

Brussels, 20 March 2020 - As a result of the corona crisis, internet traffic in our country is breaking all records. BNIX, the Belgian Internet node managed by Belnet, handled 30% more traffic on its platform than usual in recent working days. Belnet expects that the extremely busy data traffic will continue in the coming weeks and could increase even further. In addition, Belnet stresses that BNIX, through which the bulk of all Belgian commercial Internet service providers’ data traffic flows, has sufficient margins to withstand this period.

Belgian companies and government organisations - including Belnet - and the population in general have been given strict guidelines by the authorities to contain the coronavirus. Dirk Haex, Technical Director at Belnet: "Employees work from home and stay in touch with colleagues, customers and suppliers via conference calls or video conferencing. Almost all students are taking online courses. Internet traffic for private use is also increasing strongly: streaming, messages, ...: everything happens online as much as possible. As a result, our Internet node BNIX has seen record peaks of up to 391 Gbit/s in recent days. The average traffic on BNIX in recent days was more than 30 percent higher than on an average working day"

Guaranteed performance, stability and capacity

BNIX - abbreviation for Belgian National Internet eXchange - forms the heart of the Belgian Internet. BNIX optimises data traffic between more than 60 participants, including all major Belgian commercial Internet providers such as Telenet and Proximus, large cloud providers such as Microsoft and AWS, but also content providers and hosting companies. Belnet itself is also present on BNIX.

"BNIX plays a central role in the national exchange of traffic. Thanks to this exchange, the connected participants - not only the major Internet providers but also content providers such as VRT and Netflix - can exchange traffic directly with each other. This makes Belgian internet traffic faster and more efficient, which is more important than ever in this time of crisis", says Dirk Haex. "The BNIX platform is extremely stable and high-performance and can easily handle even larger peaks than those we are already seeing today.”

Tailored incident management for hospitals

Belnet is not only responsible for BNIX, it is also the IT partner of the Belgian colleges, universities, research centres, hospitals and government organisations. Belnet also plays a crucial role for them: in these coronavirus times, a disruption or failure of their connectivity would have even more serious consequences than usually. This is why Belnet is taking specific incident management measures for all customers directly involved in the management of the corona crisis. These are the FPS Public Health, the FPS Home Affairs, the Prime Minister's Chancellery FPS, Sciensano, Smals and some twenty hospitals.

Traffic on the Belnet network is decreasing

On the Belnet network itself, 1/3rd less traffic than normal is registered. There is also less downloading and more uploading. "There is a logical explanation for this: since students are following their courses digitally, they make more use of their Internet connection at home, which is provided by the commercial providers. The same applies to employees of our affiliated organisations, who currently almost all work from home," says Dirk Haex.

The increase in traffic between employees working from home and the institutions connected to Belnet does mean that Belnet is seeing an increase in traffic via BNIX. "At the moment about 60% of our data traffic runs via BNIX," explains Dirk Haex.

Prepared in time

Given its importance for the Belgian Internet in general and for the affiliated organisations in particular, Belnet has prepared itself in timely fashion for the upcoming crisis. It also immediately proceeded to a so-called 'change freeze': all planned changes on the entire Belnet network and on the BNIX platform are on hold in order to continue to guarantee stability. Only extremely essential and urgent changes to the network shall be carried out.

Dirk Haex: “Whether it’s about informing government institutions, higher education switching to digital learning, or scientists who exchange and analyse data across the globe: we will do whatever we can to fully help our clients. Long before the authorities implemented the strict measures that keep us at home right now, Belnet was already well prepared.

Belnet also takes all possible measures to ensure the health and safety of its employees and the containment of the coronavirus in general. All employees work from home and have all video and confcall technology at their disposal to co-work optimally. As a result, Belnet - including the Belnet and BNIX Service Desks - remains fully operational.

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