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COVID-19 – EE Report Reveals Internet Traffic During Lockdown

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020 (11:05 am) - Score 6,662
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EE (BT) has published their latest Mobile Network Data report from February to May 2020, which tracked the changing trends and habits of the UK’s most used internet apps and services throughout lockdown. The report also revealed a 45% increase in data (mobile broadband) use for communication services (WhatsApp, Skype etc.).

In the unlikely event that anybody has forgotten, the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis began with a soft lockdown that asked many people to work from home and then, toward the latter half of March, this was converted into a hard lockdown across the country. As a result many fixed broadband ISP networks saw a significant increase in daytime traffic, due to both adults and children now working and playing from home.

The situation for mobile networks is more complex because those stuck at home are often more likely to harness their local fixed broadband and WiFi for many internet related services. Nevertheless EE’s report shows that mobile traffic didn’t simply decline and in some areas it increased, such as with how voice calls of 5 minutes or more grew by 45%.

Stevenage, a popular London commuter town, experienced the biggest spike, with a massive 120% increase in data usage for communication apps due to people working from home, followed closely by Hereford, with a 118% increase. On the flip side Central London saw a large decrease of 58%, as much of it had closed for business, with nearby residential areas climbing the list of busiest counties.

Marc Allera, CEO of BT’s Consumer Division, said:

“Lockdown has clearly driven huge changes in the way our mobile network is being used. A 45% increase in traffic for communication apps like WhatsApp, Houseparty, Skype and Teams demonstrates the importance of staying in touch with friends, family and colleagues, while it’s also interesting to see how Network traffic is visibly shifting from cities to suburban areas.

Fitness apps are seeing big spikes in data usage as we exercise outside more and online supermarket orders spiked massively in the early stages, and are now returning to a new ‘normal’. What’s clear is that the role of a highly reliable high speed mobile network has never been more important to our customers, and I’m pleased that the EE network continues to deliver a great performance even in these tough times.”

The operator has kindly provided a bunch of illustrations below, which shows how popular online services (e.g. Zoom, TikTok and online shopping etc.) were impacted on their mobile broadband network by the lockdown. The examples use comparative daily traffic samples that were taken at specific points during the crisis (note: the hard lockdown hit in late March and only started to soften this month).


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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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6 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

    Mobile operators have been helping their customers. For example since March I’ve been getting monthly text messages from Virgin Mobile informing me that I’ve got unlimited calls and 10GB of data with the current provision ending 23 June.

    1. Avatar photo Peter Sharp says:

      Three certainly are not.

    2. Avatar photo Roger_Gooner says:

      You mean apart from free data access to all NHS websites, free delivery of all orders and reducing Pay Monthly International Saver Add-on from £15.32 to £10.

  2. Avatar photo Matt says:

    I know, was on the M25 week or so ago and was getting over 100Mb/s download, and near the same speed driving.

  3. Avatar photo Tony says:

    The data shows a big increase in mobile traffic in Hereford, assuming that includes the surrounding areas, I think the reason is clear. Despite the Fastershire programme, areas around the county are still unable to get a fixed broadband service and are using 4g services such as EE’s mobile as their primary connection. With so many working and studying from home, and a great increase in online meetings and online entertainment, it is no wonder that there is a big increase in mobile usage when this is the primary connection for a household. Unfortunately, the speed has taken a hit since lockdown, with the speeds I’m experiencing typically about one third of what they were before.

  4. Avatar photo B Neon says:

    why not include the source?

Comments are closed

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