The Broadband Year in Review: Major Trends that Changed the Relationship between Irish life and the Internet Forever

11th May 2021


In an unprecedented year, Virgin Media’s broadband network has experienced some of its busiest periods to date and significant spikes in data usage as the way we work, learn and relax have changed drastically since the start of the pandemic. Kitchen tables became offices, sitting rooms became classrooms and our relationship with how we use the internet has changed forever.


Data Usage Increase: Since March 2020, the data usage on the Virgin Media broadband network has increased by 91%, which is a clear indication of our homes becoming a central part of not only living but working, learning and entertaining and the need for fast and reliable home broadband has never been more important.


Upstream Surge: In a further insight into how consumers habits and lifestyles have changed, results on our network have shown a radical shift in upstream data usage in particular with an 80%+ increase from February 2020 to March 2021. As more and more home workers switched to video conferencing platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Webex, collaboration became even easier but demand on our network continued to grow. Even after a busy day of virtual meetings and presentations, people still kept in contact with friends and relatives via video calling apps and were keeping fit with live gym classes online, so this only added to overall upstream usage and pushed our data usage volumes to levels not seen before.


Connected Devices: Recent Liberty Global research has shown that, in Ireland, the UK, Switzerland and Austria, people are using 9 million more connected devices a day, and 40% more Wi-Fi. There’s been a 36% increase in the use of Facebook and Instagram, and an incredible 96% rise in online gaming. This shows that broadband is being used in every nook and cranny of our homes for a multitude of different uses. With the growth in streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+, we have seen more and more devices connect to the network in order to keep everyone entertained.


As gaming has evolved into a shared experience, some of the largest spikes in usage have followed releases of big titles and significant updates for these titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War and Warzone and Fortnite. Virgin Media also recorded one of its highest ever broadband peak on its network in March 2021, as gamers nationwide rushed to download the latest update for Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War and Warzone Season Two Reloaded, one of the world’s most popular online games right now.


Consumer impact: Online shopping habits for Irish consumers have also changed dramatically since COVID-19 and this will continue, with half of all respondents to research commissioned by Virgin Media saying they now shop more online now than they ever did previously. New buying patterns have also emerged since the pandemic started with many people now buying a range of specific goods and services online, such as online grocery shopping, for the first time. One in four people surveyed who have used a ‘click and collect’ service, also did so for the first time ever in recent months, and 7 in 10 respondents said they have used restaurant kerbside pickup services for the first time since lockdown started.*


Paul Higgins, Vice President of Commercial at Virgin Media had this to say: “There have been some truly record-breaking events on our network over the last 12 or so months. COVID-19 and the Lockdowns which resulted generated significant demand on our broadband network with our homes becoming our schools, colleges, offices and cinemas almost overnight. Virgin Media Broadband has been there for our customers and their rapidly changing work, school and life schedules and we’ll continue to support them to work remotely, game online with friends, learn from home and shop and socialise virtually.”


“When it comes to the fastest broadband experience possible in your home, Virgin Media has been leading the way for over 6 years**. We’ve continuously improved, upgraded and monitored our network to ensure our customers are getting the fastest and, more important, most reliable broadband speeds possible and these standout moments show just how important this is to the everyday lives of our users. Virgin Media will continue to innovate and there will be lots of exciting developments to look forward to throughout 2021 and beyond.”