Advanced Television

Data: UK broadband usage to hit record levels

December 22, 2022

By Colin Mann

The UK’s broadband use is set to break records after a bumper 2022 saw people head online to engage with major events such as the Queen’s Funeral, watch live sport, enjoy the build-up to Christmas, and continue online gaming, particularly Call of Duty.

UK digital infrastructure provider Openreach’s annual broadband update – based on the online consumption of millions of homes and businesses using providers including BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, and Zen – shows that 2021’s total of 62,700 Petabytes  (PB) of data will be exceeded around Christmas Day, with around a week of December left.

The 2022 data show the busiest single day of the year so far – and since records began – was December 11th. That day, winter weather engulfed the UK, and many households would have been accelerating their Christmas preparations with online shopping and streaming of festive films and music. Throughout the record-breaking day, just under 229 PB of data was carried across the network.

The second busiest day was September 18th, the weekend of the Queen’s funeral, when millions of people were watching online and more than 216.7 PB of data was carried across the network during the day.

And the third busiest day for the UK’s broadband was November 6th, when 216.6 PB of data was carried across the network. There was an obvious increase in traffic between midday and 4pm with notable events online around that time including live Premier League and FA Cup football.

Colin Lees, Openreach’s chief technology and information officer, is expecting a busy end to the year: “Our network has once again kept the country connected throughout 2022 as we’ve experienced some pretty momentous occasions and moments we’ll remember for the rest of our lives,” he commented. “And our work isn’t finished as we’re expecting further network peaks across the Christmas period, particularly on Boxing Day as live football returns to our screens after a six-week absence due to the World Cup. The fact a glut of matches are being screened exclusively online this holiday season, coupled with lots of new devices being connected to the Internet for the first time and downloading updates, we have the potential for having a bumper online Christmas with records toppling again,” he suggested.

“The good news is that our network always stands up to the test. We have a team of experts working hard behind the scenes to make sure there’s enough capacity for every eventuality. They’re constantly looking out for what the next big broadband traffic day could be, whether that be live sports, new film releases on Netflix or a major gaming patch.”

Key findings for 2022 broadband use across the Openreach network include:

  • The busiest day so far is Sunday December 11th, when 229 PB (exact amount 228.7 PB) of data was consumed across the Openreach network. Winter weather hit the UK and it was the start of the Christmas period for many households.
  • The 2nd and 3rd busiest days were Sunday September 18th (216.7 PB) and Sunday 6 November (216.6 PB).
  • The busiest months in 2022 were January (5,701 PB), October (5,532 PB) and November (5,504 PB). The busiest day of the week is typically a Sunday. The busiest time on the network is usually between 8pm and 10pm.
  • 2022’s annual total is set to break records, perhaps as early as Christmas Day. In 2021, more than 62,700 PB was downloaded, in 2020 that figure was 50,648 PB, and in 2019 it was around 22,000 PB.
  • Online gaming continues to have a significant impact on the UK’s broadband consumption. For example, one of the busiest days of the year was Wednesday November 16th when Call of Duty Warzone 2.0 was released. As people downloaded the new game, more than 215 PB of data was consumed nationally.
  • Openreach even saw a 20 per cent increase in online traffic during England’s World Cup opener against Iran, which unusually took place at 1pm on a Monday, during the working day. More than 23 PB of data was carried across the network during the match, compared to 19 PB for the same period, 7 days earlier.

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