Maksym Yemelyanov - Fotolia
Broadband comparison site Cable.co.uk has warned that large increases in numbers of devices, streaming video consumption, sending and receiving pictures and video, gaming and shopping could lead to network paralysis over the holidays.
A poll of 2,000 UK householders – conducted on behalf of Cable.co.uk – found that a flood of new internet-enabled devices going online at the same time could seriously stress domestic broadband connections.
The report said that 54% of households will permanently add at least one internet-enabled device to their home network on 25 December 2015 – and 5% will add five or more – but despite this, just 43% of consumers had upgraded the speed of their broadband packages in the past 12 months, while 57% had not upgraded for even longer.
Family get-togethers will further stretch broadband connections, with four in five people expecting at least one guest to bring an internet-enabled device into their household over Christmas, and 79% of them expected to ask for the Wi-Fi password rather than use 3G or 4G data services.
Other sources of contention will be picture and video sharing with absent friends, higher at Christmas than at other times of the year; downloading patches for new video games – according to Cable.co.uk Grand Theft Auto 5 requires a 10.8GB patch, while the more child-friendly Lego Dimensions requires a 5GB download; TV and video streaming – out of every 10 hours of TV or movies watched, the average household streams two and three-quarter hours, up 8% on this time in 2014; and online shopping.
Cable.co.uk consumer broadband expert Dan Howdle said consumers should stop worrying about fairy lights interfering with Wi-Fi, as comms regulator Ofcom recently suggested they might, and more on speed, device capacity and usage limits.
“Believe it or not, providers don't solely spend vast fortunes increasing available broadband speeds just to tempt you into a more expensive tariff,” said Howdle.
“Increasingly, speedy broadband deals are simply a requirement of the number of devices that need an internet connection per household – a number that’s increasing at such a rate of knots, most households simply can’t keep up.”