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Internet Data Traffic Dips at UK ISP TalkTalk for Christmas Day

Friday, December 27th, 2019 (12:27 pm) - Score 9,149
TalkTalk Logo 2017

Customers of broadband ISP TalkTalk gobbled less data on Christmas Day 2019 (25th Dec) than a normal Wednesday. Overall internet traffic on the provider’s network peaked at 4.107Tbps (Terabits per second) this year (3.35Tbps in 2018), which compares with 5.876Tbps on the first Wednesday of this month (3.96Tbps in 2018).

We should point out that it’s not unusual for online data traffic to dip on Christmas Day, since most people are only making mild use of general online services, social media and video streaming while spending time with their families (and / or recovering from a heavy Christmas lunch).

However the story was a little bit different for Boxing Day (Thursday) this year, which might be partly due to the mass of football matches and related streaming taking place. On Boxing Day TalkTalk informed ISPreview.co.uk that their internet traffic peaked at 5.553Tbps, which is up from both 3.795Tbps last year and also the first normal Thursday of this month (5.217Tbps).

You can see a similar sort of trend to this by looking at the general traffic flowing over the LON1 server at the London Internet Exchange (LINX), which is used by hundreds of providers across the United Kingdom. A higher peak exists on Boxing Day compared with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (both are also down on the prior week’s normal traffic levels).

LINX Christmas 2019

On a more general note, TalkTalk said they are seeing a 30-40% increase in data usage year-on-year, mainly due to over-the-top video consumption on their network.

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30 Responses
  1. Avatar blueacid says:

    Quite an impressive amount of traffic being shuffled about – I’d guess a lot of it isn’t via LINX but via private peering to the major content providers? (or if it’s all via transit, their bills must be phenomenal!)

    Seems quite scary to think that 15-20 years ago, some ISPs bought capacity in 155mbit (or smaller) blocks. How far things have changed since then!

    1. Avatar Ryan says:

      It’ll probably almost certainly be via private peering, most of the bandwidth gobbling services offer settlement free peering e.g. Amazon (for prime video), Google (for Youtube) and Netflix.

    2. Avatar CarlT says:

      Most of it will be on-net content delivery caches with the exception of Amazon Prime Video which doesn’t appear to offer such things just yet.

  2. Avatar A_Builder says:

    The reality though is 30-40% Y/Y data usage increase.

    Now with 8k video content as a thing……

    It is worth thinking that when we had ADSL we all used a NAS (most of us on here I suspect) now we just w or the the cloud and fibre to deliver. FTTP pipe fatness changes usage habits.

    1. Avatar Roger_Gooner says:

      It depends on what you are doing. Although I make daily backups to the Acronis Cloud, it’s for a disaster scenario and I also make backups to my Synology NAS for much quicker recovery in more normal situations. I also store hundreds of ripped videos to my NAS for streaming to my Dune HD media player, so I expect to have a NAS forever.

  3. Avatar CarlT says:

    That’s really low usage for a provider with a little under 4.3 million customers. 1.25 Mbps each?

    There are ISPs whose customers consume over twice that each at peak.

    TalkTalk must have a lot of ADSL2+ punters still.

    1. Avatar A_Builder says:


      Or the data growth is down to migrations from ADSL -> VDSL raising the upstream throughputs?

      I agree though it doesn’t quite make sense as it seems too low to me even given a bit of vegetable streaming and setting up new shiny things.

      I must admit that TT would be far down my list of preferred providers if I *needed* a reliable high bandwidth domestic connection. So maybe that has something more to do with it in that they only attract those interested in cheapness?

    2. Avatar CarlT says:

      Upstream throughputs, Chief?

      The number given will be the sum of all traffic on the network. No idea if in both directions or whatever is highest on each link.

      Won’t relate to any upstream providers. As far as I knew upstream traffic, customer upload, isn’t moving much compared to downstream as P2P is less of a thing.

    3. Avatar A_Builder says:

      Sorry wasn’t being clear. My bad.

      Upstream generally limits downstream utilisation – limited rate of sync requests for bandwidth eater things like DropBox…….so relaxing the very low upstream of ADSL should lead to a higher downstream rate……

    4. Avatar dave says:

      Only if your router isn’t prioritising upstream ACK packets.

    5. Avatar CarlT says:


      Modern TCP stacks have taken care of that. Single-figures Mbps is ample for gigabit downstream.

      Saturating upstream will always degrade downstream a bit without QoS regardless of the upstream capacity available.

    6. Avatar Mark says:

      What strikes me from the graphic is the fact that overnight minima are still around half the peak values. That must be a lot of automatic traffic going on in the background, as relatively few will be actively streaming then. An average of around 1 Mb/s going 24/7 converts to around 320 GB per month per line, which feels about right to me.

    7. Avatar CarlT says:

      That graph is across a LINX LAN, Mark, it has a lot more than just UK residential customer traffic going across it.

    8. Avatar A_Builder says:

      “Modern TCP stacks have taken care of that. Single-figures Mbps is ample for gigabit downstream.”

      Yes absolutely on a Juniper or Cisco that is properly set up. On an old ISP cheapest we could find router I’m not so convinced.

      “Saturating upstream will always degrade downstream a bit without QoS regardless of the upstream capacity available.”

      Agreed. How badly it degrades depends on quality of stack and QoS setup. Which on an ISP’s router running 10yr old firmware might not be too good.

    9. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Given TalkTalk’s challenging balance sheet, I presume that it is running some pretty old gear on a bit of a shoe string?

    10. Avatar A_Builder says:


      “Given TalkTalk’s challenging balance sheet, I presume that it is running some pretty old gear on a bit of a shoe string?”

      In all fairness to TT I doubt many other ISP will switch a working router either. The vast majority of users are not capable of firmware upgrade.

      If it is users on ADSL the routers could be really, really old.

      I think what you are talking about is network management equipment – again on ADSL kit I doubt anyone is bothering to upgrade anything anymore given that there is now an announced stop sell date.

    11. Avatar CarlT says:

      The routers usually used in the home aren’t involved in the TCP sessions other than as needed for NAT and perhaps MSS fix by modifying the SYN.

      They are not TCP proxies. They hold the state of connections to at extent but not as far as sequence numbers.

      Cisco and Juniper kit likewise.

      Firewalls there will be more layer 4 inspection, however the only time anything other than the initial 3-way handshake will be modified is if a firewall is running with TCP normalisation and sees something very wrong and even then it’ll likely just drop packets and reset sessions.

      The only kit I’ve seen do such things are traffic shaping kit that proxy TCP sessions to try and more elegantly rate limit them, cable modems with DoCSIS ack suppression enabled and WAN optimisation kit that attempts to improve transfer speeds via local acknowledgement and HSTCP across the WAN.

  4. Avatar Joe F says:

    It would be nice to see there yearly totals and the breakdown of upload to download.

  5. Avatar Lisa says:

    It may be because the internet was down for talk talk the Tues and weds before christmas, then again christmas and boxing day for a large part of the UK. The article makes no mention of that. Not a good time to have no phone and email when you want to wish loves ones not home for the celebrations.

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      Any news articles on that one? Should have made the news if that large an outage.

  6. Avatar Andy Rich says:

    What ever it is, it’s caused us nothing but trouble all over the holiday period with the signal drifting in & out, extremely annoying

  7. Avatar Annoyed mum of 3 says:

    Well bearing in mind we’ve had no internet for nearly a month with it tripping in and out mostly out, no wonder they have low usage to be honest there service is appaulling and as for sorting matters out, well if it ain’t in a script they can follow, well they’re lost!! They have no idea why its not on, threaten trading standards and ofcom on them though wow and behold my internets back on again?!!

  8. Avatar P Wall says:

    Why are you even communicating these stats, one would assume they serve little purpose to the general public, apologies if I’ve missed the bigger picture.

    We had no service for a week or so, and Talk Talk allowed me to have an arm wrestle with three telephone service engineers in the sub-continent over a 3 day period, issue new hardware, only to conclude the issue was in the local substation and a number of other people had been affected but it had taken them a while to relate this back to the local area and locate the issue.

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      You’re on a website called ISPreview.co.uk :-), this is kind of what we do.

  9. Avatar Mr Thomas mortin says:

    My usage for Christmas day with TalkTalk was 260GB. That is what is showing in the my account section 🙂 surprised TalkTalks usage isn’t higher for Christmas day.

  10. Avatar Roger London says:

    I have had nothing but trouble with me talk talk broadband speed for 6 weeks, 15 phone calls and still have problems only help they give is upgrade to fibre, fed up with the hard sell tactics.

  11. Avatar zacg says:

    I’ve recently switched to talktalk by far best imo compared to sky bt and Vodafone. I’m fully aware of talktalks poor reputation as an ex talktalk employee. personally I think it’s over exaggerated I’m getting 55mbps down and about 18mbps up . It’s flawless cannot fault it router is really good aswell I have three children all use Netflix and they’ll stream no problem I can be downloading or gaming Mrs streaming aswell no issue we are heavy internet users. I get a 6ms ping and gaming is far superior to when I was with Vodafone. Talktalk is cheap so everyone goes to then ur gunna here the horror stories the less fortunate consumer is more likely to complain. I remember having die hard bt customers trying to upsell them a line as they only had a b2b service and they wouldn’t have it even if they had trouble with bt they wouldn’t stand down I think a lot of it is releastically commercial stereotyping. You have to bear in mind 99% of issues are line faults or routers . Routers are outsourced products and lines are responsible of bt openreach. If you have an issue it’s very unlikely it’s your providers fault unless you got a full on outage which is very rare but like I say the cheaper consumer tends to moan more so we here the horror stories of the cheaper providers because of that.

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      I’m really forward to seeing how TalkTalk react to the loss of full copper.

      The ongoing sale of EFM by the business arm and ADSL by the consumer one doesn’t fill me with confidence.

      Be interesting to see how they cope if usage increases considerably also. Their usage per customer, despite being unlimited, is very low indeed.

    2. Avatar Mike says:

      Cheap services tend to attract idio… less technically comepetent.. people so that might explain the bad reviews, you can’t fix stupi…

    3. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      Quote “Routers are outsourced products and lines are responsible of bt openreach”

      If I had a contract with TalkTalk I would expect it to take responsibility for any service issues that arose, not try to blame its suppliers (which it chose). Decent ISPs do take ownership of any customers issues that arise and manage their supply chain effectively, others not so much.

      Of course, as with any service industry, ISPs are only as good as their people….

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