‘Mindblowing’: Kiwis head online for Christmas, use ‘astonishing’, record breaking levels of data

With travel off the cards for many this Christmas and families separated as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic, Kiwis jumped online to connect, celebrate and shop, sending traffic and data rates sky high.

Data provided to the Herald from two major telecommunications companies show Kiwis used a record amount of data on Christmas and Boxing Day.

Nationally, Vodafone customers consumed 1178 TeraBytes of data on Christmas Day and Boxing Day – up from 777TB of data across New Zealand during the same two days last year.

Vodafone New Zealand head of platforms Sharina Nisha said that was an “astounding” 52 per increase year-on-year – the equivalent to Kiwis streaming more than one million hours of video in just two days.

She said the most popular time to go online – such as stream content, video-call, or check out the latest online deals – was 8-11pm on both Christmas and Boxing Day,with the peaks seeing 33.28 TB and 37.63 TB of data used respectively.

Nisha said the digital services company was working around the clock to ensure customers stayed connected.

“We’ve been expecting internet traffic to spike this Christmas, as people stay connected to friends and whānau using digital tools especially while the borders are closed, but this large growth is still mind-blowing,” she said.

“Some holiday destinations are seeing double the usual data consumption already, which we expect will continue as people head away for New Years.

“We have teams of people on duty 24/7 to monitor our internet and phone networks, and we’re going to be boosting coverage at busy locations and events by installing temporary cell sites on wheels.

Some of the destinations with increased holiday capacity include Paihia, Omaha, Whangamata, Waihi, Mount Maunganui, Marlborough, Kaiteriteri and Otematata – as well as popular festivals such as Northern Bass in Mangawhai, Bay Dreams Nelson, and Rhythm & Alps in Queenstown.

“Throughout 2020 we’ve invested in upgrading cell sites around the country and preparing for what we expect will be a bumper summer as Kiwis flock to popular hotspots,” said Nisha.

“Internet and phone networks have become even more essential this year during the pandemic to continue working and learning, but smartphones and devices are obviously incredibly important for entertainment purposes also.”

Spark customers also used a high volume of data – 797TB on Christmas Day, peaking at about 9pm.

A spokeswoman said it was a 34 per cent increase on December 25 2019, where users hit 603TB of data.

“On Boxing Day, Spark mobile data customers used approximately 930TB of data, with usage peaking at 5pm. This was a 44.5 per cent increase in data usage compared to Boxing Day in 2019,” she said.

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