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COVID-19 – KCOM Sees UK Broadband Traffic Rise to 160Gbps

Saturday, April 18th, 2020 (8:03 am) - Score 2,283
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Hull-based UK ISP KCOM, which covers a big chunk of East Yorkshire with their “full fibre” (FTTP) broadband network and growing (here), has revealed that the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis has resulted in a 45% increase over normal levels of online traffic. During peak periods this has hit 160Gbps (Gigabits per second).

Admittedly 160Gbps might not seem like a big figure to some, particularly in the age of gigabit consumer broadband, although for context it’s worth remembering that KCOM’s network only covers around 200,000 premises and they have fewer actual customers than that (often on much slower package tiers).

Consumer broadband capacity is also shared between many users and most of the time the majority of us are only ever using a small slice of our connection speed or almost none at all. Likewise ISPs often cache some content (e.g. popular video streams) closer to their end-users, which reduces their capacity demands to the rest of the internet, and KCOM have been upgrading these for Disney Plus, Netflix and Amazon Prime etc.

Otherwise KCOM also notes that upload traffic to the internet has increased by 30%, which is largely due to the rise in home working, online gaming and live video streaming (video calls, Twitch etc.). In keeping with that, the ISP reported an 87% increase in file transfers (e.g. Xbox downloads and software updates), a 21% increase in video streaming and a 73% uplift in people using messaging services and social media.

Tim Shaw, KCOM’s Chief Technology Officer, said:

“We have seen an incredible increase in demand as people are staying at home to help defeat the coronavirus and this is where our investment in a full fibre network is really paying off.

There isn’t anywhere else in the country as well-equipped to deal with the surge in demand for streaming and downloading services as Hull and East Yorkshire. Our fibre network is enabling people to work from home and children to keep up with their schoolwork online with minimal interruptions, buffering or the dreaded spinning circle of death.”

KCOM recently removed all data usage caps to help tackle any worries about exceeding limits during the coronavirus pandemic, which will be helping to fuel all this, not that customers will notice any loss of performance as a result. “The fact that our service has continued as normal – and even stepped up a level to cope with new demands – so our customers haven’t noticed any change, is a tribute to their expertise and professionalism,” said Tim.

However we don’t think it’s fair to say “there isn’t anywhere else in the country as well-equipped to deal with the surge in demand for streaming and downloading services as Hull and East Yorkshire,” since a lot of other villages, towns and big parts of cities are increasingly gaining access to gigabit capable broadband and full fibre networks. But upgrades in the local access network are another matter vs issues of core network capacity.

Leave a Comment
4 Responses
  1. Avatar CarlT

    Surprised that number is so low actually. They’ve a monopoly in that area so I’d expect them to have 160,000 households signed up comfortably.

    Less than a megabit per second per household is pretty low in the grand scheme.

    • Avatar Ash

      CarlT, you’d be suprised with the local competition from wireless providers such as Connexion and Pure Broadband. I think you would also be suprised with how many of the 200k properties are situated in areas where fixed line competition is available. but you’re right … for the fantastic product they sell you would expect a higher volume of subscribers.

    • Avatar Tom

      Virtually none of the properties exist in a place with alternative fixed line providers are available. It’s an extremely tiny portion.

      KCOMs network is excellent – highly reliable and good performing but their value is horrendous. Very high costs for unlimited even at slow speeds that you could easy get for £20 or less with a number of other providers. No special offers or recontracting pricing. If you compare it to BT’s standard published pricing it’s probably a good deal but other than that absolutely not.

      A few people have the wireless broadband from Pure and others now but the real competition is coming in from 4G/5G providers.

      That being said. KCOM has a significant majority despite all of that.

  2. Avatar Spurple

    Surprised. Imaginary data caps lifted without adverse effect on network

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