UK internet bandwidth may not be able to meet demand if winter flu forces an unprecedented number of people to work from home, says analyst firm Gartner.
The US Center for Disease Control has warned that business can expect up to 40% of the workforce not to be in the workplace for an extended period of time.
The problem is that local residential internet connections will not be able to cope with such surges in demand, said Eric Paulak, managing vice president at Gartner.
"Carriers typically do not design for excess residential capacity," he said.
Residential broadband users are vulnerable to oversubscription because dozens of users typically share a single connection to main network.
Carriers are encouraging businesses to use mobile phones and other wireless broadband access as an alternative, said John Girard, analyst at Gartner.
But, he said, this could lead to wireless system overload, so businesses need to consider all three internet-access methods for their business continuity strategies.
Businesses need to set up a variety of strategies, said Roberta Witty, research vice president at Gartner.
"They need to decide in advance which business operations require heavy internet usage and stagger operations to increase the chance of getting the needed bandwidth," she said.
Three strategies for improving bandwidth
- Install network optimisation software on all laptops to make best use of limited bandwith
- Use client browser applets that work with data-centre-resident application delivery controllers to reduce bandwidth and latency-induced performance problems
- Use 3G, WiMAX or satellite technologies where possible to bypass wired connections