Broadband usage surges in the UK, but last Christmas’ record still unbroken

Broadband usage has surged over the last week as large numbers of people work from home and video streaming services see increased traffic, but the last Christmas period still holds the record for the highest concurrent usage, Openreach has said.

The firm, which is responsible for maintaining the telephone cables, cabinets and exchanges that connect buildings across the country, reported a surge in daytime internet traffic.

Last Friday saw a 46 per cent increase on the previous Friday and the weekend was also busier, with Saturday and Sunday seeing 11 and 16 per cent rises respectively when compared with the same days the previous weekend.

But the all-time peak is still held by the last Christmas period which occurred during live football streaming through Amazon Prime.

With the internet more essential than ever during the current lockdown, major tech firms have been urged to ensure satisfactory day-to-day performance can be maintained.

Earlier this month the European Commission asked video streaming platforms like Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime to do their best to reduce the burden of video streaming by moving away from HD streams.

“It is worth noting that whilst the peak time during the day is between 2pm and 5pm, the daytime peak still isn’t as high as the traffic we see in the evenings between 8pm and 11pm,” Openreach said.

“Overall, the network is coping very well, as we have expected.

“No peak has yet beaten the previous record which was during the last Christmas period and live football streaming through Amazon Prime.”

On Sunday, it was announced that all data allowance caps on current fixed broadband services will be removed in a deal struck by the Government and telecoms companies to help vulnerable people stay connected during the pandemic.

It is among a range of immediate measures signed up to by major internet service and mobile providers including BT/EE, Openreach, Virgin Media, Sky, TalkTalk, O2, Vodafone, Three, Hyperoptic, Gigaclear and KCOM.

The latest data from Opensignal, which conducts crowd-sourced testing of 3G, 4G and 5G mobile networks, has shown that smartphone users have been relying on Wi-Fi instead of their mobile data in recent weeks.

The Government plans to roll out full-fibre broadband to every home and business by 2025 – a pledge that some MPs have criticised as they believe it is unrealistic.

Housing developers will soon be forced to ensure that new homes come with gigabit-speed broadband connections, under new requirements.

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