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UK internet use doubles in 2020 due to pandemic

UK Internet usage more than doubled in 2020 when people sat home through the coronavirus pandemic.

Boxing Day was the busiest day for internet subscribers, according to data from Openreach, which manages a significant portion of the UK broadband network.

Over the festive season, large areas of the country were subject to four-tier restrictions, and Christmas gatherings were limited.

Live sport, internet gaming and home-working have all added to the boost.

Openreach runs cables, ducts and other facilities used by a range of other networks, including BT and Sky. It said this year:

  • Openreach users used 50,000 petabytes of data this year, compared to 22,000 in 2019.
  • Properties linked to the wireless fibre used an average of nine gigabytes of data a day.
  • On Boxing Day, a record of 210 petabytes was used on the network

A combination of video calls to get in touch with family and friends, as well as TV viewing and gaming downloads were factors leading to the December 26 record, he said.

The second busiest day of the year was 14 November, when Amazon Prime streams two live rugby matches. Openreach said the usage arose just before kicking off.

Online gaming has had a major impact on UK broadband use, with much of the major data spikes based on improvements to popular PlayStation, PC and Xbox games-including Call of Duty and Fortnite.

Colin Lees, Chief Technical Officer and Information Officer at Openreach, said the company’s network has worked hard to “make sure there’s enough network capacity for every eventuality

“It’s been a year unlike any other and we believe that’s played a major part in this huge jump in data consumption,” he said of the pandemic.

“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.”

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