Britons use the internet 19% more this year than in 2020, study finds

DATA released by one of the UK’s biggest telecom providers has shown 2021 to be a record year for online consumption – with 19% more Britons downloading every day in 2021 , compared to 2020.

Online gaming uses more data than ever before as people are stuck at home, with the release of Fortnite Chapter 3 in December setting off the biggest single day for data downloads.

Brits downloaded 19% more data per day in 2021 than in 2020


Brits downloaded 19% more data per day in 2021 than in 2020Credit: Alamy

While new releases of Call of Duty, Fortnite and Apex Legends spiked in February and March, resulting in some of the busiest days for broadband traffic.

The figures were released by Virgin Media O2 after analyzing more than 47 million customers from January 1 to December 10, 2021 and uncovering the nation’s Internet usage during a tumultuous year.

After months of gloom and gloom following the Prime Minister’s daily Coronavirus briefings, Britons have shown signs of pandemic fatigue this year, with average news consumption down 15% compared to with 2020.

Bored with Covid, the nation’s attention turned to the return of live sports, resulting in a 24% growth in sports views.

The busiest TV days are associated with some of the biggest sporting moments of the year including FA Cup clashes, India vs England Cricket game and the Super Bowl.

Although data usage was down in all England matches at Euro 2020, with downloads down 28% in the final compared to last week.

Jeanie York, chief technology and information officer at Virgin Media O2, said: “It’s been another roller coaster ride in a year, and our digital behaviors reflect that.

“Amid another lockdown and various restrictions, we have seen demand for our services grow steadily as customers have made the long-term transition to hybrid and we have seen the explosion of online gaming – it all boils down to the need for super-fast and reliable connections across our mobile and fixed networks. ”

The data revealed that Brits downloaded an average of 18.9GB of broadband data per day between January and February 2021 – a 52% increase from pre-pandemic levels.

While mobile traffic is up 45% year over year.

The peak period for broadband download traffic moved from 8pm to 4pm in February 2021 – showing that many demanding parents are already using services like Netflix, YouTube and games to distract their children while making work commitments.

October saw download traffic peak back at 8pm, as Brits adapt to new hybrid work models and resume regular school operations once again, moving back to ‘Netflix and relax’ in the evening.

The release of Squid Game drove the highest average traffic to Netflix on October 3, with 27% more traffic to Netflix than the typical weekend.

And the quietest day to upload data to the O2 Mobile network is May 30, when Britons put down their devices for a warm bank holiday weekend.

It also emerged that June saw users turn to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat more than ever – with usage across these four apps accounting for 41% of total customer activity.

While October saw TikTok account for 7% of total app usage.

Jeanie York added: “The data is clear that these changes are lasting: even as we regain our freedom, we continue to stay connected with friends and family.

“Whatever 2022 is available to us, we are fully prepared to keep the country connected to the things they love.”

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Caroline Bleakley

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