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UK broadband usage doubles in 2020

UK broadband usage more than doubled in 2020 with 50,000 Petabytes (PB) of data being consumed across the country, compared to around 22,000 in 2019, according to data released BT infrastructure arm Openreach.

During 2020, the daily record for broadband use was broken 15 times, and the average property connected to Openreach’s fibre networks used around 3,000 Gigabytes (GB) of data, or around 9GB per day, equivalent to between two and three HD movies being streamed in every house in the country, every day.

The busiest day for the UK’s broadband was Boxing Day, Saturday December 26, when a record 210 Petabytes (PB) was consumed across Openreach’s networks.

On that day, a mix of video calls to get in touch with family and friends during heightened Coronavirus restrictions as well as TV streaming and gaming downloads were all contributing factors, the company said.

The previous record breaking day, November 14, came when Amazon Prime Video screened two live Autumn Nations Cup rugby matches, with Openreach’s network traffic charts showing UK broadband usage surged just before 13:00 as the first of the two games approached kick-off.

“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, Openreach.

“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.”