Myths about the Internet in the context of COVID-19

Myths about the Internet in the context of COVID-19

Is it possible to get coronavirus through the 5G telephone network? Not at all! However, this myth caused people to carry out acts of vandalism towards telecommunications structures in the United Kingdom. The World Health Organization had to deny this myth to prevent similar situations from occurring elsewhere.

The Internet Society pronounced itself on some of the myths and facts about the Internet during COVID-19 that have occurred worldwide. Below are some of them:

Myth: The Internet is congested

Fact: There is no congestion. Traffic increases are seen on last mile networks, on IXPs, on international links, on CDNs, etc. Being able to see traffic increases is proof of lack of congestion. When the graph is “flattened” at a maximum level, it means that there is congestion.

The increase in Internet traffic was absorbed by the capacity that providers normally maintain to be able to offer good service and, in many cases, the increase occurred outside of peak rush hours. However, it must be taken into account that this is at a general level and that each country has its own circumstances.

Myth: Increased Internet traffic is affecting IXPs

Fact: Traffic to IXPs around the world increased due to the pandemic and may increase further without affecting Internet service. IXP equipment is very simple and can handle much more traffic than is being handled during this pandemic.

In December 2019 the first IXP was installed in Guatemala and it has worked very well on demand, it has not had any overload.

Myth: It is better to use landlines for voice calls

Fact: Traditional telephony was planned to support a certain number of calls according to a statistical distribution that allowed normal use, but did not support consumption peaks (for example, when it was impossible to communicate at Christmas or in disaster situations). Voice over IP scales much better than landlines.

Today’s IP networks are prepared to handle much higher volumes (due to the high consumption of video and other applications) and there would be no way to congest the network even if we all made simultaneous voice calls.

Myth: It is better to use SMS instead of WhatsApp for instant messaging

Fact: SMS service generally has a cost for the user and it uses mobile network resources that can suffer congestion. It is recommended that while at home one use broadband services as much as possible, minimizing the use of the mobile network. Fixed Internet (residential broadband) services are better prepared than mobile network services to absorb exceptional consumption.

Myth: “On-demand” audio and video streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Youtube, Spotify, Deezer, etc.) have the same impact on networks as real-time audio and video communication services (videoconferences, VoIP, live streaming, etc.)

Fact: On-demand streaming services generate a different impact than real-time communication services. On-demand services maintain content on servers that are close to end users through CDNs, caches, IXP integration, etc.

Myth: 5G mobile phone networks spread COVID-19

Fact: Viruses cannot travel on radio waves/mobile networks. COVID-19 is spreading in many countries that do not have 5G mobile networks.

COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. People can also be infected by touching a contaminated surface and then their eyes, mouth or nose. (OMS, 2020)

“Now, more than ever, information technology is vital to our economy, health, and safety. And ITU, as the UN specialized agency for information and communication technologies, will continue to leverage these technologies to help defeat COVID-19 and make us safer, stronger, and more connected” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao.


ITU. (April 9th 2020). ITU: No scientific basis between 5G and COVID-19. Obtained from International Telecommunication Union:

WHO. (April 10th 2020). Tips for the population about rumors of the new coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Obtained from World Health Organization:

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Last modified: 04/05/2020


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