Carriers are schooled as learning networks crash

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Carriers are schooled as learning networks crash

With millions of students logging on for the new school year, which is opening with virtual classes due to the Covid-19 outbreak, servers run by mobile carriers have been overloaded, forcing the companies to upgrade their systems and increase capacity.

Caught flat-footed, they been scrambling to meet demand.

Over the past few weeks, it was a rolling wave of kids hitting the country’s IT infrastructure. On April 9, 860,000 students stormed the virtual halls. A week later, last Thursday, another 3.12 million students added to their ranks. Today, even more students will be welcomed to the new school year online.

So far, performance has been mixed, with vital systems crashing and students being left without connections to their educators.

According to reports from the field, the systems started sputtering as the second batch of students all tried to log on for the start of classes at around 9 a.m. last Thursday. Students had difficulty connecting to the e-learning websites of the Korea Education and Research Information Service (Keris) in some areas, while Wedorang, the education platform of Keris, was inaccessible in the morning.

Industry executives say that the simultaneous demand for bandwidth from so many people overloaded the servers and caused the problems, though they added that the country’s IT network did not face any disruptions.

In response to the failures, SK Telecom, KT and LG U+ decided to expand the server capacity for educational sites and speed up the network connections to schools. SK Broadband, which manages the Korea Educational Broadcasting System’s content delivery network, secured more capacity in preparation for traffic excess.

SK Broadband already doubled its traffic-processing capacity ahead of the online classes on April 9. SK Telecom announced it would provide a free video call service named Callar and the T Group Call app to schools in need of support.

KT and LG U+ have upgraded the internet networks serving education offices and schools nationwide. KT said it is increasing the internet speed at 12 education offices and 7,740 schools that use its KT school net service, free of charge until June.

LG U+ will also increase the internet speeds of four educational offices and 3,460 elementary, middle and high schools that use its LG U+ school net service free of charge until June.

“We have our joint response team with the government to support remote classes,” an official from the telecommunications industry said. “We will do our best to support online classes so that there will be no academic achievement gaps caused by the coronavirus outbreak.”

BY PARK HYUNG-SOO, KIM YEON-AH [kim.yeonah@joongang.co.kr]

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