Broadband usage more than doubled in 2020, UK data shows

Broadband usage in the UK more than doubled this year, according to new data.

The home internet network saw traffic vastly up over the course of the year, as people used their connections to work, study and live much of their lives from their home, according to new data from Openreach.

Individual days also saw vastly increased internet usage, the same data showed. The record for daily broadband use was broken 15 times through the year.

Openreach’s broadband network is used by customers of BT, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Zen and saw an increase to 50,000 petabytes over 2020, compared with 22,000 petabytes last year.

The vastly increased data demands were the result of working from home but also a series of major launches. The network pointed to the high-profile launches of video games consoles – the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X – that led to downloads of huge updates, as well as an increase in streaming of films, TV and live sport.

Boxing Day was named the busiest day of the year for broadband – when a record 210 PB was consumed across Openreach’s networks.

The company said this was down to increased numbers of video calls as friends and family got in touch, as well as TV and video game streaming.

Colin Lees, chief technology and information officer at Openreach, said: “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.

“January and February saw data consumption at around 2,700PB per month – before the pandemic brought about a big increase – with most months at more than 4,000PB – for the rest of the year.

“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.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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