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Openreach Records 10 PetaByte Peak in UK Internet Traffic

Friday, May 1st, 2020 (7:49 am) - Score 3,547

Openreach (BT) has reported that data traffic over their UK network reached its highest peak in the last 90 days on Wednesday 29th April 2020, which saw the operator hit the daily 10 PetaBytes (per hour) level “for the first-time since lockdown.” The peak was driven by the COVID-19 impact and some video game software updates.

Ordinarily there wouldn’t be much point in remarking on new peaks in traffic since data consumption is almost constantly on an upward trend (i.e. new records are always being set), although the current increase in daytime traffic from domestic broadband ISP connections – due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) crisis (more people working and playing from home) – makes everything a bit more interesting.

We’ve already seen how major software releases and updates can have a significant impact on internet traffic, such as with the release of the free ‘Call of Duty: Warzone‘ game on 10th March 2020 (here); that occurred just before the hard lockdown period began. We also note that since around late February Openreach’s weekly UK data traffic has increase by more than 20% (here).

However that combination of the COVID-19 lockdown and a double whammy of video game updates (both ‘Call of Duty’ and ‘Fortnite’ saw big content releases) have just managed to eclipse many of the previous peaks, which pushed traffic beyond the 10 PetaBytes level.

NOTE: 1 PetaByte is equal to 1,000 TeraBytes (TB) or 1,000,000 GigaBytes (GB).

openreach_29th_april_2020_traffic

Just for some extra context we’ve also added a summary of traffic passing over the London Internet Exchange (LINX) below, which covers the past week and shows traffic over both their primarily LON1 and LON2 switches achieving 4.93Tbps (Terabits per second) on 29th April at 4pm (during normal times the peak would be later as people come home from work and school etc.). This is still lower than the 5.1Tbps+ we’ve seen before but it remains an impressive surge.

As usual we didn’t see any major increase in complaints from consumers about slow broadband speeds, which is partly because any associated decreases – if they occur at all – would usually only be very small. Likewise UK ISPs have by now completed most of their main core network tweaks to boost capacity (mostly as a result of the COVID-19 impact on domestic connectivity).

NOTE: LINX does NOT provide a complete overview of internet traffic flow from all of the ISPs (e.g. BT’s network alone recently saw a peak of 17.5Tbps), but they do offer a useful indication for how such networks are behaving.

linx_29th_april_2020_traffic_lon1_lon2

Leave a Comment
14 Responses
  1. Avatar Bluaecid

    From all the reporting I’ve seen (much of it on this site; top job, Mark!), it’s apparent that the lockdown is pushing up the daytime usage to a higher level, but it’s not yet caught up with the evening peak – thus not really making a material difference to ISPs; they’ve got to spend money if the peaks get higher, but more usage at other times is likely of little concern…!

    I wonder if the evening peaks have changed measurably, or if they’re still following the same long-term “generally upward” trend they’ve been following all along?

    Fortunately, the 10GB Call Of Duty: Warzone patch seemed to be hosted on some incredibly overwhelmed servers. I’ve got hyperoptic and have run ethernet cable to my desktop, but could only get around 100-300KB/sec download speeds for the patch.

    Judging from my friends, they were all in a similar boat; most had the download running for most of the day in order to be able to be ready for the evening.

    Perhaps if the servers hosting the updates had been faster, there might have been more of an impact..!

    • Avatar joe

      Perhaps they throttled it.

    • Avatar h3x1e

      That was Blizzard servers being trash, and it was reported on the BattleNet Launcher. I was getting the same experience on BT Fibre 900 downloading at 1MB/s. This morning through I was getting the full 110MB/s.

    • Avatar JmJohnson

      Here’s a tip for the next update… change your region to Asia then start the download.
      I went from 300KB/s to 4.1MB/s.

    • Avatar Gary

      Changing regions works for me too quite often. Any so long as its not the Europe one. There’s something lacking on that one.

      Also, patching via a VPN I’ve seen huge differences in DL rate, On EE the rates often twice as fast using a VPN Location outside the UK.

    • Avatar JmJohnson

      Tbh… I wouldn’t say the servers are trash. They do have over 60million active players of Warzone.
      With each update being over 10GB that’s a huge amount of data to push.

  2. Avatar BlueBeanz

    Hi Acid, I’m also with Hyperoptic. Did you find that you need to pay the £5/mo for the static ip to resolve the CGN/NAT issue and get online games to work & stay connected? I’ve tried port forwarding with no success.

    • Are you on their IPv6 network yet?

    • Avatar Blueacid

      I pay it, but it’s more because I want to VPN into my network when I’m out and about, plus I run jellyfin (akin to Plex) so that also needs an external IPv4 address. I did haggle a little on renewal, though, so I’m paying 33 quid for 150/150 and the static IP.

      As soon as I’ve got IPv6 in all the places that I frequent, I might be tempted to give CGNAT a try.
      Right now my NAT Type still shows as “Moderate” in Warzone. This doesn’t seem to affect anything so I’ve not bothered to figure out which (if any) ports need forwarding.

      Hyperoptic have rolled out IPv6 to my building, so it’s dual-stack – however I think at least for COD: Warzone the connections to their servers are still via IPv4 (at least, it seemed to be last night when I was investigating some pretty foul packet loss in one match.. this PL also affected the 3 others I was playing with; they’re on BT, Sky and Virgin so I figured it was definitely at the server end!). Next match it was back to normal, so obviously something temporary, or relating specifically to whichever server hosted that particular bout.

  3. Avatar JamesW

    Call of Duty updates are probably helping the peek on this. Wednesday’s update was 32gb.

    • Avatar Gary

      Aye, Lazy coding and design. The more bandwidth and storage media we get the bigger the bloat in software gets. Like all the Unified driver packages etc.

      To make the Update data transfer even worse I have it installed on my Lappy and a Gaming PC so had to DL it all twice sadly as we’re long past the days where you downloaded an actual patch you could just copy across.

  4. Avatar Name

    It was me downloading Internet.

  5. Avatar Matthew

    Great article Mark!
    Does anyone know how this peak throughput stacks up against other carriers around the world? I imagine some of the US carriers see similar sorts of throughput?

  6. Avatar billybobg

    oh sorry that was me.
    new computer, downloading my steam library.

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