Virgin Media highlights 'new normal' for UK broadband usage

Virgin Media highlights 'new normal' for UK broadband usage

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The UK's use of broadband networks increased substantially during the three-month lockdown imposed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with these trends set to be the 'new normal' for the longer term.

This is according to Virgin Media, which noted the large growth in demand for both download and upload traffic is likely to be maintained, increasing the need for fast, resilient connectivity networks in the coming years.

Jeanie York, chief technology and information officer at the network provider, said: "This is a new dawn for broadband usage; the way people use their connectivity has irrevocably changed and we expect Covid-19 will have a lasting impact on patterns of data consumption."

The company reported that on average, households using its network have downloaded an extra 325GB of data since the start of lockdown in late March, equating to an additional 3.4GB of data per day when compared with download levels in February.

It noted this is enough for each household to watch an additional 3.5 hours of streaming video via Netflix, receive more than 5,000 emails and listen to more than 700 hours of music.

However, it is in upstream traffic where the changes in demand have been particularly significant, which reflects a nation that has been increasingly reliant on broadband connectivity to work from home throughout the lockdown period.

Virgin Media stated that its customers are uploading an extra 3.7GB of data each week compared with pre-lockdown levels.

This is enough extra data for every customer to make 14 hours of one-to-one high-quality video calls on Zoom, or send 185,000 emails, the company noted.

Despite this increase in demand, Virgin Media noted that fears that the UK's broadband networks would not be able to cope with the additional demands placed on them in recent months have not materialised.

However, as the vast majority of its customers (99 per cent) receive download speeds of 100Mbps or more, resulting in an average network speed that is more than double the UK average, this may not be representative of households that still do not have access to such high-speed connectivity.

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