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Virgin Media UK Summarise Broadband Use During Lockdown

Wednesday, June 17th, 2020 (2:00 pm) - Score 12,155
Virgin Media 2014 UK Logo

Broadband ISP Virgin Media has today revealed new insights on the extent of internet traffic growth during the COVID-19 lockdown, such as the fact that households on their network have downloaded an “extra” 325GB (GigaBytes) on average during lockdown so far.

As most people will be aware, the Coronavirus crisis has caused many more adults and children alike to both work and play from home. The situation caused an increase in domestic internet traffic, particularly during April, although this has recently begun to soften as more people start returning to work.

In fact since lockdown started, every Virgin Media broadband customer has downloaded an extra 3.4GB per day on average when compared with download levels in February – the month before lockdown measures began. During the busiest week of the lockdown, VM’s customers were downloading a “third more data than before“, burning through an extra 32.5GB compared to February.

Admittedly you’d sort of expect this, given that 99% of Virgin Media’s customers are now taking “ultrafast broadband” speeds of 100Mbps or more. But interestingly the change for upload traffic is also significant, with customers uploading an extra 3.7GB each week (e.g. remote working, gaming, Twitch and socialising online by uploading pictures/videos etc.).

Data usage also varies significantly between regions. Consumers in London have made the biggest shift to consuming content online and have been downloading 20% more throughout the emergency period. Meanwhile, Wales has seen the smallest change with just a 10% growth in download traffic, while N.Ireland tops the table for overall peak use and customers in Scotland downloaded the least of all the UK regions during the busiest 8pm-10pm period.

When it comes to upload traffic, Northern Irish customers have made the biggest change, with peak data use increasing by 58% during lockdown, while Welsh users appear to be making less evening video calls with the lowest average upload traffic of any region.

Jeanie York, Virgin Media’s CTIO, said:

“Despite a surge in demand as people have relied on their broadband more than ever, our network has proved itself reliable and resilient and helped keep people connected to loved ones, work and entertainment. This is a new dawn for broadband usage; the way people use their connectivity has irrevocably changed and we expect Covid-19 will have a lasting impact on patterns of data consumption.”

Overall it’s noted that April 2020 was the busiest month on record for Virgin Media’s network, with usage in May only just behind that. However the busiest single week was, unsurprisingly, the first week of lockdown in late March. The following week, at the end of March and start of April, also turned out to be the busiest in terms of uploaded data as customers embraced video calls and remote working.

However, as lockdown measures have gradually eased, there has been a slight decline in data consumption compared to the busiest weeks, although newly established patterns (e.g. daytime upstream traffic more than doubling) have remained (e.g. children doing video calls with friends and for work etc.).

Fears that broadband networks would not be able to cope with increased usage during lockdown have, thankfully, not materialised despite customers using their connections more intensively than ever. Sadly that’s all we get from Virgin Media and it would have been more helpful if they’d provided a full summary of the statistics they’ve recorded, rather than a partial one.

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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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
Leave a Comment
33 Responses
  1. JP says:

    Saying the network was reliable may come as a suprised to some customers…

    1. Roger_Gooner says:

      Virgin Media has 5.3m broadband customers in the UK, and with the best will in the world there will always be some who have a poor or non-existent service at any point in time. The same applies to every large ISP.

    2. Joseph Paul Binsley says:

      To right my laptop freezes all day long ,I’m not on but when I go on it takes ages opened. So I turn it of and start again.

    3. fire5tar says:

      Of my group of IT friends (appx 15 ppl) 3 are on VirginMedia all of them are complaining of packet loss and high latency and they are geographically diverse… bad luck? Or greater issue with their UBR’s they don’t want to admit too. I work in the industry and VM are the least transparent about their core network of everyone I work with.

    4. Roger_Gooner says:

      I don’t see how a knowledge of VM’s core network would benefit you at all. However, as most faults are caused by some CPE or access network problem I think a knowledge of these is helpful.

    5. edward says:

      Id be more worried about a fifth of your imaginary I.T friends unable to pick a reliable service. Of course those like the whole statement is imaginary though.

  2. Annoyed VM Customer says:

    It is surprising to here this seeing as we have been suffering with a high utilisation fault in Pineham,Northampton for over 7 months now that they will not fix and just keep moving the date along each month.

    City Fibre are just about to roll into the estate and I will be off . VM may claim to have capacity but they certainly do not on the docsis side of their network.


    1. JP says:

      Ooof that BQM

    2. Lexx says:

      I would try and get a superhub 4 out of them as it supports the future docsis 3.1 and makes 32 down and 4 up docsis links vs 24 down and 1-2 up on the superhub 3 this can help

      But if the upstream capacity is overloaded the area needs upgrading to docsis 3.1 (you need the superhub 4 to use 3.1)

    3. JP says:

      Lexx – The Hub 3 supports 4 upstream channels same as hub 4.

    4. CarlT says:

      Leex / Lexx:

      ‘I would try and get a superhub 4 out of them as it supports the future docsis 3.1 and makes 32 down and 4 up docsis links vs 24 down and 1-2 up on the superhub 3 this can help

      But if the upstream capacity is overloaded the area needs upgrading to docsis 3.1 (you need the superhub 4 to use 3.1)’

      Why are you writing such utter disinformation?

      I have for many months responded to you when you’ve written this nonsense with corrections.

      The Superhub 3 supports 8 upstream channels – some areas have 5 or 6 bonded.

      If it’s overloaded the Superhub 4 doesn’t help as VM still run DoCSIS 3.1 on the downstream only.

      I really don’t understand the benefit of writing this misinformation here. It makes you look like an dumbass that can’t be bothered to do your homework and may mislead people who read it and think that a Hub 4 will magically fix upstream capacity issues – it won’t.

    5. JP says:

      Ooops yes, Thanks for correcting that Carl,

  3. Openreach hedge fund will never offer good service says:

    The reason that rural areas haven’t downloaded as much is the speeds we get are still 5 to 10 mb with constant drop out. UK government does nothing to uplift rural connectivity.

    1. Buggerlugz says:

      That’s not true at all. The government is really good at pretending it is.

    2. CarlT says:

      I’ll remember that when looking at the taxpayer cost of BDUK and the 5 billion FTTP programme the government are planning.

      Hundreds of thousands of rural properties have benefited from government schemes. Your home and local area are not a touchstone on the entire country.

      Until relatively recently there was more full fibre broadband in rural areas courtesy of the taxpayer than there was in urban areas.

    3. Kaitlyn says:

      I still regularly think about where we might be today, had BT been allowed to go ahead with their full-fibre rollout in the early 80s.

      They claimed they got the per-metre price even lower than copper with the economies of scale they would’ve achieved doing everyone in one big go.

      The patchwork rollout of the last decade has been so much more expensive by comparison, due to all the fits and starts and wayleave negotiations and so on. This dramatically reduced how many households could be reached with any individual government grant as well.

      I know speculating on alternate histories is pointless as we can never go there and they don’t actually exist… but still I wonder. I look at Japan and S Korea who had similar rollouts in the late 80s and early 90s. I wonder how the UK may be better, even if in subtle ways, if every rural home had fibre reliability and speed for the past 20 or 30 years.

      Not especially relevant really, but I always think about it when people complain one way or the other about the recent government grants for fibre. Since they would have been unnecessary had BT been allowed to do it under their own funding when they were newly privatised. Funding which has been whittled away by dividends, Ofcom rulings, and various other complaints and costs over the years; making government grants necessary when combined with the higher cost per-metre of smaller rollouts.

    4. edward says:

      “had BT been allowed to do it under their own funding”

      Except back in the 80s just like now it would not had being their own funding. In fact when the idea was first floated the majority ownership was still state, which might be why the state who would of had the biggest cost even back then said sling your hook.

      Not that any of that will stop the regular false BT would had done fibre in the 80s narratives.

  4. Onephat says:

    To add a bit of balance to the normal VM related comments. Ours has been rock solid for the entire period of lockdown. I sit on the 500mb package and I’ve rarely seen it drop below 350-400mb even at peek times. With myself working at home and the rest of the family streaming anything and everything, it’s proved to be worth every penny we pay for it.

    1. Lexx says:

      There are some very small street areas where virgin isn’t bothered to add more docsis 2.0 cards to a street area FTTn cab that is overloaded (they did the same on my street the only reason it got fixed was because local FTTn cab was upgraded to docsis 3.0, my cab covers 20 streets)

      they just wait until the next docsis technology comes out witch is 3.1 witch is in the process of been rolled out but you need a superhub 4 to use it

    2. Spurple says:

      Yea, agree. Although peak and average speeds hold up well for me, the jitter/latency makes gaming a bit frustrating during peak hours.

    3. SimonR says:

      My 500 line – which is normally solid – keeps going through phases where it drops to <1mbps. Mostly it seems to sit around 150. Upload – although low to start with – is seemingly reliable. Working from home is challenging.

      I am in an area where they oversell though, and pretty much every street will have different experiences. Still makes me cringe though when their "Stay Connected" advert comes on the TV.

    4. CarlT says:


      LeeX / Lexx, would you please actually read the stuff I write as you write this stuff and it’s complete and utter nonsense.

      ‘There are some very small street areas where virgin isn’t bothered to add more docsis 2.0 cards to a street area FTTn cab that is overloaded (they did the same on my street the only reason it got fixed was because local FTTn cab was upgraded to docsis 3.0, my cab covers 20 streets)’

      There are no DoCSIS 2.0 areas. There are no line cards in the ‘street area FTTn cab’ I’ve explained this more than once. Go hit up Wikipedia. This is nothing at all to do with cabs having line cards put in them as the cabs are dumb media converters with nothing to put line cards into.

  5. Vlad Botos says:

    It was absolute shit during lockdown. Always dropping, weak signal and not reliable at all.
    Can’t wait to switch to another company.

  6. Sylvia Taylor says:

    I’m on my own so I have been using anything like the rest I should get a refund

  7. Adam Kemp says:

    What would be really interesting would be for a network to say how much data the average household was using each day and each month rather than saying people were using an extra 3.4GB a day

    Looking at my only personal data for our family it looks like we were using around 88GB a day not sure if that is above or below average and I think we used 1.8TB in May

  8. Helen Ryan says:

    I find VM bad as I cannot get to use it properly. They keep changing.
    My grandson tried to get hold of me from china but was told thet we were not connected.
    How was that

  9. Saqeb naeem says:

    Hi I am not happy with my bill please help me out my postcode is [admin note: removed personal details].

    1. Nik says:

      This isn’t a virginmedia forum mate, there is no one here who would call you and I would advise against posting your postcode, mobile and name on a public forum!

    2. CarlT says:

      Cheers. Date of birth and maybe numbers from front and back of debit card for the account you use for the Direct Debit too?

  10. David Bavington says:

    I retained my old 12mbs service via Openreach connection and there were several occasions where it out performed Virgins 100mbs service.

    1. Kaitlyn says:

      Do you have them both connected to a router that does automatic failover or line bonding?

  11. Paul Langley says:

    Having just seen Jeanie York’s (CETO) at Vergin media comments
    regarding how well Virgin broadband has “held up so well” under lockdown should take a look at Twitter and read some of the many complaints and frustrations customers are experiencing. I reside in Bristol and the broadband has been a joke for the money i’m paying, other major cities I believe have also experienced the same problems, connection poor and just dropps off every 10mins makes everyday tasks a bind and as for streaming Amazon or Netfix movies forget it!! so, the money I’m paying for those services are also a waste of my money!!! in short “GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER VIRGIN” or I’m off to find another supplier.

  12. Jon Gillett says:

    Mixed bag for me; I would’ve agreed VM had “held up well” up until 10 days ago… suffering CONSTANT drop-outs, takes 20 minutes to re-sync…stays up for 30 minutes, repeat. Late nights/early hours seem worse than days (engineer working on network when they think minimal impact?). Reported multiple times using EVERY means available, finally “Dilip” (only person who even remotely tried to help!) said “It’s your router; you have SH2…too old & past it, will send you a new one.” I tried to explain the SH2 is rock solid, so unlikely to be the principal fault (tried to get a new one a year ago, told “only new customers qualify”, so kept stummn). Funnily enough, since getting hold of a UK call centre phone number, speaking with an obnoxious northern woman, who told me “The problem was caused by not plugging in the SH4.” I didn’t waste my breath to argue the toss, I just asked her to stay on the phone until line came up…10 mins later..stable connection. Stayed that way for 4 days now on SH2, will swap over when it suits me. Draw your own conclusions…

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