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Broadband use in UK doubles to 85 ExaBytes

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a doubling of broadband Internet use in the UK according to the latest figures from OpenReach and Virgin Media to over 85,000 Pbytes,(85 ExaBytes).

The busiest single day in the UK was 26th December with 210Pbytes of data on the OpenReach network, up from 181Pbytes on Christmas day and double the 96Pbytes in 2019. Virgin Media saw its busiest day in November with 108Pbytes with the launch of the Microsoft Xbox Series X games console, although the figures were released just before Christmas.

During 2020, the daily record for broadband use on the OpenReach network, used by BT, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and Zen, was broken 15 times.

The average household used around around 9GB per day, says OpenReach, for a total of 55,000Pbytes in the year. This compares to 22,000Pbytes in 2019. Virgin saw 27PBytes on its cable network in the year to November, an average of 80Pbytes per day. With Christmas, that will see at least 2500Pbytes in December for a total of 30Pbytes 

The boost for broadband came from an increase in home working and video conferencing due to the Coronavirus pandemic, more live sports being screened online by the likes of Amazon Prime Video, and large updates to Playstation and Xbox games consoles, including popular gaming titles such as Call of Duty.

“It’s been a year unlike any other and we believe that’s played a major part in this huge jump in data consumption. We know more businesses asked their employees to work from home throughout most of 2020, so connecting remotely has been and continues to be important for everyone,” said Colin Lees, Chief Technology and Information Officer at Openreach.

“During the first lockdown in March 2020 we very quickly saw about a 30 per cent increase in daytime broadband use compared to pre-Coronavirus times, mainly due to a huge increase in home-working and, particularly during the first lockdown, home-schooling,” he said.

Next: Broadband in lockdown


“January and February saw data consumption at around 2,700PBytes per month – before the pandemic brought about a big increase – with most months at more than 4,000PBytes – for the rest of the year,” he said. “In terms of capacity, our network has coped well during the pandemic. We have a team of tech experts working hard behind-the scenes to make sure there’s enough network capacity for every eventuality. They’re constantly preparing for things such as major retail events like Black Friday or the release of the latest big ticket TV and film titles on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon.”

“These seismic shifts in behaviour show the dramatic effect of the pandemic on our lives and its lasting impact. The unexpected shift towards working, living, learning and socialising from home drove record-breaking traffic on our network and we provided a lifeline in lockdown,” said Jeff Dodds, Chief Operating Officer at Virgin Media.

“In a year of unknowns, one thing that is certain is the importance of our services and we’re here to help people stay connected for whatever comes next, in 2021 and beyond.”

www.openreach.com; www.virginmedia.com

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