Record-breaking 2023 for UK home broadband

Research from UK’s leading comms provider finds more broadband data used than ever before, as bumper traffic during Christmas and New Year contributes to the busiest days

In the traditional end-of-year network audit by the UK’s leading broadband provider, Openreach, broadband traffic across the UK increased by around 9% on an annual basis during 2023 to 94,722 Petabytes (PB) of data.

Openreach builds and maintains the fibre network used by customers from broadband providers such as BTSkyTalkTalkVodafone and Zen, and said closer examination of the research data showed that traffic peaks tend to be focused on specific online events such as Amazon Prime’s Premier League coverage and the release of downloads for popular gaming titles including Call of Duty. There was a surge in broadband use towards the end of the year, with December being the busiest month of 2023 for broadband traffic.

The busiest months in 2023 were December (8,944 PB), November (8,289 PB) and October (8,251 PB). The busiest single day across the Openreach network was Tuesday 26 December (Boxing Day), when 342 PB of data was consumed. This, said Openreach, was largely driven by the ongoing festivities, people using their broadband connections to stay in touch, set up new devices, and watch movies.

The second-busiest day was Wednesday 27 December, which continued the trend of the previous day with live football and ongoing celebrations across the UK. More than 330 PB of data was consumed across the Openreach network.

The next-busiest days were Thursday 28 December (319 PB) as festivities continued, and during November, as popular gaming patches for titles including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III were released. More than 319 PB of data was downloaded on Sunday 19 November, closely following by 12 November, when 313 PB of data was consumed. 

On a general basis, the busiest day of the week is typically a Sunday, while the busiest time on the Openreach network is usually between 8pm and 9pm – but this can be extended an hour earlier and/or later.

The busiest hour for broadband consumption during 2023, and indeed ever, was between 8pm and 9pm on Wednesday 6 November, when Amazon Prime screened six Premier League matches. Some 29.5 PB of data was used by the UK – the average for that hour would normally be around 21 PB.

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The busiest hour during the festive period was between 9pm and 10pm on Thursday 28 December, when 27.1 PB was used. Online gaming continues to have a significant impact on the UK’s broadband consumption. For example, many of the busiest days of the year coincide with popular downloads for Call of Duty.

Commenting on the research findings and what could be the significance for broadband provision, Trevor Linney, director of network technology at Openreach, said: “Our network has once again performed the important role of keeping the UK connected throughout 2023, both at home and at work.

“We’re seeing a real pattern starting to emerge in these annual reports, with live sports and gaming at the heart of huge jumps in data usage. As always, the real good news is that our network always stands up to the test. We have a team of experts working hard to make sure there’s enough capacity for every eventuality.”

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