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Glastonbury festivalgoers

Attenborough’s surprise Glasto cameo endangered mobile data as traffic spiked

Image credit: REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

According to EE, record-smashing amounts of mobile data were used by festivalgoers this year at Glastonbury. The largest spike in mobile traffic was caused by Sir David Attenborough’s surprise appearance at the festival.

The mobile network operator is the official technology partner of the Glastonbury Festival. This year, it provided 5G coverage across Worthy Farm in Somerset for the first time, allowing for considerably faster speeds and reduced latency for revellers equipped with 5G-ready smartphones.

According to EE, more than 103.6TB of data was used in the course of the three-day festival, the equivalent of more than 50bn Instagram photos or nearly 24 years of solid video streaming on Netflix. This was more than double the amount of data used on-site at the 2017 Glastonbury festival and more than 1,000 times the amount used at the 2010 event. This matches the approximate doubling of data growth every two years, which is in turn aligned with Moore’s Law.

Chart to show increasing data use

E&T Magazine

Image credit: Ben Heubl for E&T Magazine

“Every year at Glastonbury Festival, we see the demand for data increasing and this year all expectations were surpassed,” said Pete Jeavons, marketing communications director for EE. “This legendary festival is one of the most exciting places on the planet for music fans and our data shows that people are as keen as ever to share their experience with friends and family.”

The music festival featured major acts including Stormzy, The Killers, Janet Jackson, The Cure, Miley Cyrus, and Kylie Minogue. The naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough made an unscheduled appearance at the festival; he was frequently drowned out by waves of applause as he thanked festivalgoers for cutting down on single-use plastics at the event and shared previews from his upcoming television series ('Seven Worlds, One Planet'). Environmental responsibility was a central theme of this year’s Festival, with the sale of single-use plastic bottles banned and festivalgoers encouraged to bring sturdy reusable tents.

Attenborough’s appearance – shortly before Kylie Minogue’s much-anticipated appearance in the traditional Sunday afternoon 'legend' slot – was the busiest time on their network, EE said.

According to EE, Saturday night headliners The Killers were the most hyped performers, with more than 55,000 users (almost a third of festivalgoers) adding the band to their ‘line-up’ section of the official Glastonbury app. BBC coverage of Sheryl Crow’s Friday afternoon performance was the most streamed part of the Festival.

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