UK Broadband Usage Statistics 2022
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Revealed: The UK's Most Online-Obsessed Areas
A recent study by BroadbandUK has revealed that homes in Southall, West London have the highest broadband usage per household*: 589 gigabytes per month on average. With an estimated 63 million internet users in the UK, BroadbandUK dug into the data to gain a greater understanding of internet usage in homes across the nation.
According to Ofcom data, average broadband usage per UK household was 456 GB/month in May 2022. That's the equivalent of 65 hours of UltraHD streaming on Netflix, or streaming more than 63 thousand 3 minute songs on Spotify.
The region with the highest average consumption is Greater London, with 506 GB/month; 11% above the national average. In second place, households in the North West use on average 478 GB/month. With 3.18 million connections in the region, total annual usage comes to a staggering 18.6 billion gigabytes.
|Region||Avg. monthly usage per household (GB)||+/- Diff. UK Avg.|
|East of England||447||-2.00%|
Table: Average broadband usage per connection +/- % against UK average at regional level
Which UK towns and cities are the biggest gigabyte guzzlers?
Southall in West London comes top of the table with an average of 589 GB/month per connection. That's 29% above the national average.
- Southall - 589 GB/month
- Romford - 560 GB/month
- Ilford - 559 GB/month
- Manchester - 533 GB/month
- Oldham - 531 GB/month
- Dartford - 529 GB/month
Drilling down to street level, White Hart Lane in Haddenham near Aylesbury has the highest average usage per connection, with 29,203 GB/month. The research looked at predominantly residential streets across the UK.
- White Hart Lane in Haddenham - 29,203 GB/month
- Wilkie Court, Woburn Sands, Milton Keynes - 14,910 GB/month
- Cheapside Road, Ascot - 14,823 GB/month
- Chambers Road, St. Leonards-on-Sea - 7,509 GB/month
- Moss Carr Grove, Keighley - 5,623 GB/month
UK towns and cities with the least monthly broadband usage
Llandrindod in Wales has the lowest usage per connection with 308 GB/month, which is 32.5% below the national average.
- Torquay - 328 GB/month (45% connections <30mbps)
- Exeter - 363 GB/month (36% connections <30mbps)
- Shrewsbury - 367 GB/month (36% connections <30mbps)
- Harrogate - 372 GB/month (31% connections <30mbps)
- Truro - 373 GB/month (43% connections <30mbps)
Factors contributing to disparity in broadband usage across the UK
It comes as no surprise that BroadbandUK identified a positive correlation between connection speeds and usage. 70% of connections in Greater London are Superfast (30Mbit/s or more) and 5% Ultrafast (300Mbit/s or more) with only 25% Standard connection (under 30Mbit/s).
33 of the 114 locations analysed have 5% or more Ultrafast connections and the average usage is 480 GB/month; 5% above the UK average. Typically, where faster broadband is available, usage increases.
Contrastingly, the South West has the lowest data usage per connection, but also the highest proportion of Standard connections, with 32%. Bucking the trend entirely, Hull had the highest proportion of Ultrafast connections at 13.5%, but the average household usage was 11% below the national average; just 407 GB/month. In fact, Hull is one of the fastest broadband regions in the world, due to KCOM's rollout of its £85m full fibre network in 2019, but this hasn't resulted in greater data usage.
|Region||Avg. Usage per Connection, Monthly (GB)||Standard Connections %||Superfast Connections %||Ultrafast Connections %|
|East of England||447||27.2%||69.0%||3.8%|
Table: Average broadband usage per connection and % of Ultrafast, Superfast and Standard connections at regional level
Other locations with more Standard connections than the average UK town or city (the average across all locations analysed was 28%) and below average monthly household usage include Llandrindod, Kirkwall, Exeter and Hereford.
|Town/City||Avg. Usage per Connection, Monthly (GB)||Standard Connections %||Superfast Connections %||Ultrafast Connections %|
|Comhairle nan Eilean Siar||315||33.7%||66.2%||0.1%|
Table: Broadband usage for locations with more than 28% (UK avg.) Standard connections
Project Gigabit, a Government initiative to deliver fast, reliable broadband to homes and businesses across the UK, was announced in 2021 with investment to the tune of £5bn. The Government boasts that 'Gigabit-capable broadband is now available to over 70% of the UK', but BroadbandUK's analysis showed that despite these claims, uptake of Ultrafast broadband is significantly lower.
Saveen Rajan, CEO of BroadbandUK, comments:
"The Government's levelling up agenda has included a major push to deliver full fibre broadband across the UK. However, while the pace of this rollout has been rapid, our research shows that take-up has so far lagged behind due to lack of awareness and high pricing."
WFH and broadband usage
During the COVID-19 pandemic, ONS data identified Greater London and the North West as the regions with the highest proportion of employees working from home. In February 2022, 84% of people working from home due to the pandemic said they planned to mix working at home and in the office in future. This is likely a contributing factor to regional variations in usage.
The environmental impact of data transfers
Home broadband connections are becoming increasingly fast and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are investing heavily in reducing the carbon footprint of data transfer. But despite drastically reducing carbon emissions in recent years, there's still a very real environmental impact associated with broadband usage.
It's estimated that every GB of data transferred produces 13.8 grams of carbon. With this in mind, the UK produces 158,000 tonnes of carbon every month through broadband usage alone. To put that into perspective, it would take 90 million trees to offset the UK's annual carbon emissions from broadband usage.
|Region||Avg. kg of CO2 emissions per household/annually||Tonnes of CO2 emissions per region/annually||Trees to offset regional annual emissions|
|East of England||74||14,510||8.3|
Table: Average annual CO2 emissions per household/region and number of trees to offset regional emissions
Broadband is perhaps one utility that consumers don't immediately associate with the environment, but the data above shows that the issue is very real.
On the environmental impact of broadband usage, Dan Sherrard-Smith, CEO & Founder of MyMotherTree.com noted:
"Great broadband doesn't have to come at the expense of the environment. There are providers out there who offer Ultrafast connectivity while making sure their carbon footprint is as low as possible. It's worth doing a bit of research to make sure the provider you pick is playing its role in serving you as well as the planet."
BroadbandUK's Saveen Rajan added:
"The carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and systems supporting them is a real and growing concern - estimated to be similar to global emissions from the aviation industry.
"We hope that ISPs will be encouraged to reduce and offset their carbon footprint - for example, by using renewable energy, recycling equipment and avoiding single use plastics - and, in turn, consumers will choose greener providers so that together we can help mitigate climate change and promote a sustainable future."
- Greater London is the region where households use the most data on average. This is partly driven by faster connection speeds and partly by the greater proportion of people working from home.
- Southall is the town with the highest average household usage per month. Homes use 29% more data than the UK average, 589 GB/month.
- Even though Hull has the largest proportion of Ultrafast connections, households average 407 GB/month, 11% below the national average.
- The UK Government claims there is 70% coverage of Gigabit-ready broadband, but the data shows that on average just 4% of households have Ultrafast connections in regions across the UK.
- The environmental impact of broadband usage is hugely significant. The average household in Greater London produces 84 kg of carbon per year and the whole of the UK produces in the region of 1.9m per year. Broadband providers must continue to make data transfer more efficient and reduce the carbon footprint of broadband usage.
- We took Ofcom's Connected Nations data, which has connectivity and usage stats at postcode level.
- We assigned postcodes to streets, towns, cities and regions, to give us totals and averages by location.
- Hours of UltraHD Netflix streaming were calculated assuming that 1GB equates to one hour of streaming (on desktop).
- Spotify streaming was calculated using the assumption that one minute of very high quality streaming (320KBPS) equates to 2.4MB.
- We estimated carbon emissions assuming that 1GB of data transfer equates to 0.0138 kg of CO2 emissions.
- We estimated the number of trees required to offset CO2 emissions, assuming that the annual offsetting rate is 21 kg CO2/tree.
*A limitation of the data set used is that there isn't a count of individual properties, therefore it was assumed one connection equals one household. There will be instances where properties have more than one connection.