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UPDATE2 Big Broadband ISPs Report Christmas UK Internet Traffic Record

Monday, December 30th, 2013 (2:35 pm) - Score 2,173

Several major broadband ISPs, including BT and Sky Broadband (BSkyB), have both reported record breaking levels of Internet traffic over Christmas Day compared with the same time last year. For example, BT’s consumer data traffic peaked at 10pm with a transfer rate of 1,086,822 Megabits per second.

It’s interesting to note that the same night-time period on Christmas Day 2012 attracted data usage of around 601342Mbps to 622867Mbps between the hours of 8pm and 10pm. BT has kindly furnished ISPreview.co.uk with a nice graph to show the activity.

chistmas 2013 internet traffic bt

Meanwhile Virgin Media had predicted a 55% surge in Internet traffic over Christmas compared with the same time last year, which was expected to peak at 1.6Tbps. Virgin also estimates that the peak usage on its network could hit 2.5Tbps by the end of 2014 but at the time of writing they still had not been able to give us any actual figures for Christmas Day.

Thankfully Sky Broadband has been a little more forthcoming and advised that they saw “usage almost double this year from Christmas 2012“, which like BT peaked at 10pm as families across the country “dispersed and the socially connected updated their Twitter feeds and Facebook status with well-wishes and reports of the day“.

Lyssa McGowan, Sky’s Brand Director, said:

It’s great that UK families still see the importance of sharing time together around the table for Christmas lunch, but gone are the days of ‘one-Christmas-fits-all’. With the increase in tablets and smartphones and the huge variety of entertainment on offer now, households and families are becoming techier, be it granddad on his iPad or his granddaughter on her Xbox 360.

That’s why having a totally unlimited DSL or fibre broadband package has become so important to families, allowing them to surf and stream to their hearts’ content with the reassurance of having no traffic shaping or usage limits.”

Unfortunately Sky was not able to provide any specific statistics beyond the vague references above, although they did better than TalkTalk which told us not to expect any data. We found that curious because TalkTalk are normally very good with network statistics, even though their PR folk do sometimes get their Gigabits and Gigabytes mixed up.

UPDATE 6th January 2014

Cable operator Virgin Media has revealed that Sunday 5th January 2014 was the busiest day ever for Virgin Media’s network, with over eleven and a half thousand Terabytes (11.55 Petabytes) of traffic delivered to customers’ homes in 24 hours, with a peak of 1.67Tbps between 8pm and 9pm (i.e. around 60% larger than last year).

Meanwhile on Christmas Day Virgin Media saw a 55% increase in demand across the day when compared to Christmas Day 2012. Demand peaked around 9pm at 1.2Tbps, which is 58% higher than the peak of Christmas Day 2012.

UPDATE 7th January 2014

Sadly TalkTalk still hasn’t been able to provide any data for the relevant days above but they have revealed that Internet Traffic on their network reached a new peak on Sunday (5th Jan) evening as Britain got ready to return to work.

At its busiest the ISPs broadband network was handling 900Gbps (Gigabits per second), which is a significant increase over the previous record of 832Gbps recorded when Apple’s iOS7 operating system was released in September 2013.

The busiest period was around 9pm, which coincided with the BBC’s airing of hit drama Sherlock.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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2 Responses
  1. Avatar Phil

    I expecting it will go over 1500000 Mbps in 2014 Xmas Day. I find it rather odd because 2013 xmas day is more likely families difficulties budget due to government big cuts. I rather surprise families go out and spend on high technology items they can afford or probably using credit cards and get debts soon.

  2. Avatar Tim Rossiter

    Note that BT peaked at 1.1 Tb and VM at 1.6 Tb (albeit with slightly fewer customers). This suggests that the wide deployment of VM high speed lines does increase traffic, but not by a proportionate amount.

    The comparison with your ‘line speed poll’ is interesting. Currently 80% of respondents say they need lines of > 20 Mbit/s. But the stats suggest that when customers get high speed lines they don’t make much more use of them than standard ADSL customers ( who get an average rate of ~ 10-12 Mbit/s ).

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