Data Usage Has Increased 47 Percent During COVID-19 Quarantine

Jun 5, 2020 · 3 min read

We have become (even) more reliant on the internet since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to a 47 percent increase in broadband data usage, and more gigabit and terabyte subscribers.

By Jason Cohen

The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the way we live our daily lives. Many of us now work from home, turn to telemedicine to see a doctor, watch more Netflix to stay entertained, and use online communication tools to talk with friends. This resulted in a significant increase in internet data usage over the first few months of the outbreak, but just how much more are we relying on the internet these days?

According to OpenVault’s Broadband Insights Report for the first quarter of 2020, average broadband consumption has increased to 402.5GB, from 273.5GB during the same time last year-that’s a 47 percent increase. It’s also a 17 percent rise over the fourth quarter of 2019, which saw 344GB in broadband usage. (See the full infographic below.)

Leading the way are the people who OpenVault refers to as power users: those who consume over 1TB of data. This group went from just 4.2 percent of total subscribers at the start of 2019 to 10 percent in the first quarter of 2020. This 138 percent increase in power users has greatly contributed to the acceleration of anticipated broadband consumption trends by nearly full year.

When looking at just the median usage, the average for both usage-based billing and flat-rate billing plans has increased significantly. Broadband usage increased from 146GB in the first quarter and 190.7GB in the last quarter of 2019 to 233.6 GB to begin 2020–60 percent and 22 percent increases, respectively. The rate of increase in median growth has also accelerated to 122 percent in the first quarter of 2020.

Thanks to our increased internet usage and significant reliance on faster speeds, gigabit internet subscribers have increased by 97 percent. The percentage of gigabit subscribers rose from just 1.9 percent at the beginning of 2019 and 2.8 percent at the end of the year to 3.75 percent in the first quarter of 2020.

Infinera has an informative infographic that helps explain which online habits have increased our collective data usage. By its calculations, 50,000 years worth of media was streamed in just one day, on April 4. Numbers like these are possible caused by our increased reliance on streaming services-Netflix and Peloton user growth rose 22 percent and 66 percent, respectively, year over year. Disney+ is also four years ahead of its user projections, with 54 million paid subscribers already.

Our use of social media has also risen drastically, leading to a 27 percent increase in Facebook traffic and a 26 percent growth in quarterly sessions on LinkedIn. TikTok has seen a 25 percent rise in monthly downloads, and messaging apps such as WhatsApp are fielding twice as many video and voice calls. Social video apps have also seen a surge in popularity, with Bunch receiving 1 million downloads in just seven days and Houseparty seeing a 70 percent increase in monthly signups.

Originally published at

PC Magazine

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