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Six Ways You're Heading For A Christmas Broadband Meltdown

  • Unsuspecting households headed for Christmas broadband meltdown
  • Research identifies large increases in number of devices, streaming video consumption, sending and receiving pictures and video, gaming and online shopping as key stressors

7 December 2015: Broadband users are at risk of a telecoms meltdown this Christmas, according to a new study by broadband deals and advice site Cable.co.uk.

Researchers One Poll interviewed 2,000 householders intending to host Christmas this year. It found that a flood of internet-enabled devices, increased sending and receiving of video, and increases in demand for streaming TV, gaming and online shopping among a range of factors that will seriously stress broadband connections for a majority of consumers this Christmas.

The study identified the following factors:

Over half of households will permanently add at least one internet-enabled device this Christmas

Despite most of us adding new devices to our household each year, only two in five of us (43%) have upgraded the speed of our broadband package since last Christmas, while the rest (57%) have either left it for longer, or have never upgraded it at all.

Meanwhile, over half of us (54%) anticipate buying or receiving at least one additional data-hungry device for our household this Christmas, with one in twenty (5%) adding an incredible five or more.

Three quarters of Christmas visitors will use their host's wi-fi connection

If you're hosting Christmas this year, four out of five (78%) of you expect at least one of your guests to bring internet-enabled devices with them into your household. That's going to affect your broadband speed, since over three quarters of us (79%) ask for our host's wi-fi password rather than use our own mobile data.

Over half of the money we spend online this Christmas will be spent on data-hungry devices

Three quarters of us (72%) plan to shop online between Christmas and New Year, spending an average of £150 per head. More than half of that money (£77) will be spent on, yep you've guessed it, even more data-hungry devices.

Half of us are more likely to send images and video at Christmas than at any other time

Of those of us who send images and videos to friends and family via our phones and tablets, around half (49%) reckon we're more likely to do so at Christmas than at any other time of the year. Most of those who remain (42%) will continue to send images and videos as normal, putting additional strain on the host's broadband connection.

Over a quarter of households will receive two or more download-heavy video games this Christmas

New console games often require the downloading of a patch before they can be played online. Grand Theft Auto 5 required a staggering 10.8GB patch, while even the child-friendly LEGO Dimensions requires 5GB of data (roughly an hour on a standard non-fibre connection) to properly work.

Nearly half of us (55%) reckon at least one new videogame will arrive in the house this Christmas, with a little over one in four (28%) adding two or more.

Around a quarter of TV and movies we watch this Christmas will be streamed from the internet

We are increasingly relying on the internet for our Christmas TV and movies. On average, of the last 10 hours of TV or movies watched, 2hrs and 45mins was either streamed or downloaded from the internet. Last Christmas, the figure was 2hrs 33mins, a year-on-year increase of 8%.

Additional comment:

Commenting on the results, Cable.co.uk's consumer broadband expert, Dan Howdle said: "These findings go to show consumers should stop worrying about fairy lights interfering with their wi-fi and focus on the real broadband issues facing them this Christmas, namely those of speed, device capacity and usage limits.

"If you're hosting family and friends this year you should consider how much headroom you have on your existing broadband connection.

"Believe it or not, providers don't solely spend vast fortunes increasing available broadband speeds just to tempt you into a more expensive tariff. 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."

Christmas broadband survey findings

1. How many new internet-enabled devices do you anticipate adding to your household this Christmas?

The past: the birth of mobile internet

2. Approximately how many months ago did you last upgrade your home broadband connection to a higher speed? (This could be through switching or from your existing provider)

The past: the birth of mobile internet

3. How many of those visiting you for Christmas this year do you think will be bringing internet enabled devices with them?

The past: the birth of mobile internet

4. When using your phone or tablet for internet (data) applications at the house of a friend or family member, which of the following do you typically prefer to do?

The past: the birth of mobile internet

5. How likely do you think you are to send images or videos via the internet (from any device) at Christmas, versus any other time of the year?

The past: the birth of mobile internet

6. How likely do you think you are to make or receive a video call over Skype, Facetime or other VoIP service at Christmas versus any other time of the year?

The past: the birth of mobile internet

7. How many new console video games do you think are going to be given and received in your household this Christmas?

The past: the birth of mobile internet

8. Do you ever watch TV/movies?

The past: the birth of mobile internet

9. On average, out of every ten hours spent watching TV shows or movies THIS YEAR, how many hours do you estimate you have spent watching it in the following ways?

a) Using streaming services/downloads

The past: the birth of mobile internet

b) Watching as it is broadcast/at the cinema/pre-recorded TV/movies/DVDs

The past: the birth of mobile internet

10. On average, out of every ten hours spent watching TV shows or movies LAST YEAR, how many hours do you estimate that you spent watching it in the following ways?

a) Using streaming services/downloads

The past: the birth of mobile internet

b) Watching as it is broadcast/at the cinema/pre-recorded TV/movies/DVDs

The past: the birth of mobile internet

11. Do you intend to shop online during the Christmas period? (between Christmas Eve and New year)

The past: the birth of mobile internet

12. When do you intend to shop online during the Christmas period?

The past: the birth of mobile internet

13. How much do you intend to spend (in £s) online during the Christmas period?

The past: the birth of mobile internet

14. How much of the money you spend online during the Christmas period do you think you will spend on internet-enabled devices?

The past: the birth of mobile internet

Notes to editors

  • Research carried out by One Poll on behalf of Cable.co.uk
  • Data collected from 2,000 UK broadband customers who will be hosting Christmas in 2015
  • In return for using our commentary on UK telecoms issues, we would deeply appreciate a link to https://www.cable.co.uk

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What is Cable.co.uk?

Cable.co.uk is a broadband, TV and phone comparator, unique news source and consumer champion.

Dan Howdle has been plugged into the attitudes of UK broadband, TV and mobile customers for over two decades. Having spent 12 years at the coalface of consumer telecoms research, initiating and running projects both nationally and internationally on behalf of the biggest players in the industry. Dan is now Director of Communications and in-house consumer telecoms expert for Cable.co.uk.

An experienced broadcaster, commentator and writer who frequently appears on BBC TV and radio, ITV, Sky and in the national papers and their websites, Dan leads a team of journalists and communications folk who spend their days researching and reporting on problems faced by UK broadband, TV and mobile customers both on an individual and macro level.

Dan campaigns on many issues currently facing consumers of broadband, TV and mobile products in the UK. These include, but are not limited to: Rural broadband provision; mobile coverage; broadband, TV and mobile customer contract issues; broadband and mobile broadband speeds; switching and money-saving; infrastructural challenges; pricing, changes and structures; shifts in technology and the marketplace; telecoms regulation, policy and law; fines, adjudications and policy changes; mergers and closures of UK providers; annual financials and more.

Dan has advised Ofcom on issues surrounding service quality. He also administers and adjudicates the yearly Broadband Service Quality Awards and sits on the panel of judges for the Internet Service Providers Association annual awards.

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