2021 was a massive year for internet traffic

Picture of the Earth with a web of links over the surface
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The UK's wireless routers have been working on overdrive in 2021 as Brits upped their internet usage during the pandemic, according to fresh figures from Zen Internet.

The internet service provider (ISP) found that internet usage increased by 113% since March 2020, which marked the ‘official’ start of the Covid-19 pandemic.

December seems to be growing into a traditional peak month. Internet usage peaked during the final days of 2021, rising 27% above last year’s peak, which was also in December. 

News and entertainment

The media can take much of the credit, with 2021 proving a successful year for some, with the BBC having its highest peak on the Zen network at 74% above 2020’s peak. The ISP says these figures are “evidence” the UK public still trusts mainstream media for news coverage on critical issues. 

The report further hints that it was the Prime Minister’s address to the nation that drew the largest crowd, as the 2021 peak “coincided” with the December 12 address. The year prior, the peak was on December 13, during the finalization of the Brexit deal. 

But Brits have been consuming a lot more than just news. TVs, work laptops, and mobile phones were heavily used for online entertainment as well. Events such as the UEFA Euro 2020 finals (where England made it all the way to the final), the launch of video game Halo Infinite, and the finale of BBC police drama Line of Duty have all had individual spikes of up to 15%.

“With the internet being a fundamental enabler of work and play, we don’t expect this demand to drop anytime soon. Looking to 2022 and beyond, there will be an increasing demand for reliable and resilient broadband connectivity,” noted Paul Stobart, Zen Internet CEO, adding that the report shows a strong demand for reliable internet connectivity in the UK going forward.

Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.