The network annual traffic statistics from UK operator Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) has revealed the continuation of working from home, online gaming, and streaming live sport, films and TV shows has seen usage on the broadband network increase by 13% in 2023.
VMO2’s year in review provided a deep dive of trends, habits and behaviours across its broadband, mobile and TV services, revealing that 2023 saw usage records smashed, with the King’s Coronation topping the TV charts and Wednesday emerging as the most popular office day. The company added that even though the pandemic and Covid restrictions might be a thing of the past for some, its impact on how users are now navigating the digital landscape has resulted in record-breaking levels of data consumption year-on-year.
Driving the 13% year-on-year increase in overall data consumption on the VMO2 broadband network was a download peak calculated between 8pm–10pm on Wednesday 6 December that coincided with Prime Video screening six live Premier League matches and the launch of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III’s first season, as well as the release of its latest Warzone map.
VMO2 noted that online gaming and the regular need for gamers to download large files and updates is one of the biggest contributors to frequent data records on its broadband network. Seven of the top 10 busiest days on record occurred in 2023, and have all been influenced by gaming titles such as Call of Duty, Fortnite, Starfield and The Witcher.
Working from home was another key driver for data consumption. VMO2 said it was clear that many people were still opting for remote working, with a 14% increase in broadband traffic between the traditional working hours of 8am–5pm (Monday to Friday) in 2023 compared with 2022.
In terms of mobile, the study found the use of mobile apps continued to rise, with Facebook the most popular product of its kind. The research showed that O2 mobile users’ reliance on their mobile phones has never been greater, with the use of mobile apps and data increasing by 26% in 2023 compared with the previous year.
Facebook made up for one-fifth of all application data consumed on O2’s mobile network and almost double that of the next most popular app, YouTube. TikTok and Netflix followed behind in the rankings. Live sport clearly gets people reaching for their phones: not only to stream matches but also to message friends. During the round of UEFA Champions League group stage fixtures on the evening of 19 September, data usage on O2’s mobile network surged, making it the busiest hour on the network throughout 2023.
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According to exclusive insights from O2 Motion, which uses anonymised and aggregated data from O2’s mobile network, Wednesday was the most popular day to go to the office. The next busiest day was Tuesday and, although VMO2’s broadband network showed that working from home is still popular among many workers, from autumn of this year, the majority of the public were back to four days at their place of work per week.
“In what has been another bumper year, we continue to invest and innovate to provide vital connectivity and entertainment for our customers,” said Virgin Media O2 chief technology officer Jeanie York. “Seven of our top 10 record days for broadband network usage occurred in 2023, fuelled by working from home and online gaming, while our mobile data usage increased by a quarter.
“Our customers’ ever-growing appetite for data demonstrates the key role we play in people’s lives, and highlights why we need to keep investing and improving our products and services to ensure we match this growing demand,” she said. “If history teaches us anything, it’s that 2024 is set to be another busy, connectivity-hungry year for our customers, who continue to use our services more than ever.”