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Openreach network sees heaviest loads on Sundays at 9pm

BT Openreach offers new insight into the inner workings of its fibre network as part of its mission to make itself more transparent

Openreach, BT’s local access network division, has launched a quarterly report called the Fibre Index revealing some insight into what goes on on its fibre network and some interesting factoids on how consumers are using it.

The Fibre Index, which will be updated quarterly from here on out, underpins Openreach’s continuing drive towards making itself more transparent and open to users, as laid down in its recently announced charter, said chief engineer Ian Lawrence.

“We own the largest fibre network in the UK, and we want to show the result of the £3bn investment we have made in fibre. This underpins how good the technology is and how good the network is,” said Lawrence.

The inaugural report revealed that data usage across the five million active fibre connections surveyed is currently growing at 40% a year. Over the summer of 2015, the average customer was consuming 190GB of data per month, the equivalent of 45 high-definition (HD) movies, 2,000 albums, or 17 hours of HD TV streaming a week.

The busiest single day for data consumption in the past few months came on 23 August 2015, the day after the fatal Shoreham air disaster.

The Fibre Index also showed that the network has a distinctive and active cohort of what might be termed power users, with just a quarter of homes and businesses accounting for 75% of traffic passing over Openreach’s fibre network in an average month.

This possibly indicated some wiser socio-economic trends, with heavy users likely to be younger people, who are more likely to use services such as Netflix or Steam.

This trend towards ‘Millennial’ users was also clear to see in terms of how the Openreach network is used over an average week, hitting a low point on Thursday and Friday evenings, when more people are out, and hitting a high on Sunday evenings at 9pm, when there is usually nothing good on television, suggested Lawrence.

Despite the controversies that have dogged the UK’s national broadband roll-out, and the continuing war of words concerning the future of Openreach as a BT-owned business, there is no doubt that the UK’s broadband landscape is unrecognisable from what it was five years ago, when the average download speed was around 5.2Mbps, to the current national average of 22.8Mbps.

Currently, around 24 million premises are able to order a fibre connection from Openreach, up from four million in 2010, and there are 19.6 million customers using a service provided over Openreach’s network, whether that is from BT itself or around 500 other service providers.

“Over half of UK households have at least two different internet-enabled devices and nearly a third has seven or more, all usually connected at the same time. With the rapid growth of Smart TVs all needing a fast broadband connection, what we can see is that consumers and businesses will demand even more from fibre,” said Lawrence.

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