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2021 was a record year for UK data use – VMO2

UK operator group Virgin Media O2 has published the numbers on the use of its networks this year and revealed we downloaded more than ever.

VMO2 punters downloaded 19% more broadband data per day than they did in 2020, while mobile traffic was up 45%. Initially this seemed surprising when you consider how much of 2020 we sent either locked down or unable to do the things that make it worth leaving the house, such as going to the pub. On the other hand we were totally locked down for the first quarter of this year, while in the same period of 2020 we were still trying to work out what the hell was going on.

“This has been another rollercoaster of a year and our digital behaviours reflect that,” said VMO2 CTO Jeanie York. “Amidst another lockdown and varying restrictions, we’ve seen a sustained growth in demand for our services as customers have made a long-term shift to hybrid-working, and we’ve seen the explosion of online gaming – all of which enhance our need for ultrafast and reliable connectivity across our fixed and mobile networks.

“The data is clear that these changes are long-lasting: even as we regained our freedom, we continued to connect with friends and family. Whatever 2022 has in store for us, we’re fully prepared to keep the country connected with the things they love.”

Before Covid peak domestic broadband use was around 8pm but with people largely working from home that has apparently jumped back to 4pm, implying people are taking the opportunity to shave some time off their working day – good for them. Specific spikes seem to coincide with the launch of new video games, with those tending to require large downloads these days.

The mobile spike seems to have been strongest in the Summer, especially since lots of people had staycations and were presumably reliant on their own mobile data if they found themselves between wifi hotspots. Having said that, if this writer’s anecdotal experiences were anything to go by, East Anglia still has a way to go when it comes to mobile notspots.

Here’s a great big infographic summarising the VMO2 data.

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