First COVID-19 lockdown accelerated data usage trends
Published16 Mar 2021
The Commerce Commission’s Annual Telecommunications Monitoring Report shows that the initial COVID-19 lockdown accelerated the growth in fixed broadband data with a 37% surge in usage.
“Our 2020 monitoring report includes the first COVID-19 lockdown period and it shows that changes in the way Kiwis worked, learned and played led to significant growth in fixed broadband usage,” said Telecommunications Commissioner Tristan Gilbertson.
For the year ending 30 June 2020, average fixed broadband usage increased from 207 gigabytes (GB) per month to 284GB. This is a 37% increase from the 2019 level.
“The impact of COVID-19 travel restrictions can be seen in the decline of mobile roaming revenue for mobile network operators, with revenue from New Zealanders roaming overseas falling by 20%”, said Mr Gilbertson.
The initial lockdown highlighted that while most broadband technologies held up well, with average download speeds remaining steady despite significant increases in usage, fixed wireless broadband speeds dropped by 25%.
“Other changes in the report can’t be tied so directly to COVID-19, but we are certainly seeing existing trends accelerate, such as the move to ‘endless’ or ‘unlimited’* mobile bundles. The popularity of these bundles doubled for residential accounts and quadrupled for business accounts, though from a low base,” said Mr Gilbertson.
“We are also continuing to see Kiwis moving off copper broadband connections onto fibre and other new technologies, with copper connections dropping to 28% of total broadband connections. In addition, residential landlines are continuing to decline in popularity, with more than half of household fixed line connections now purchased with no voice service,” said Mr Gilbertson.
The report also looks at market shares for the industry. Overall, smaller telecommunications providers continue to grow their market share in the fixed-broadband market. Smaller retailers’ market share grew from 11% to 13% in 2020.
The Annual Telecommunications Monitoring Report
The report is the 14th Annual Telecommunications Monitoring Report produced by the Commission under section 9A of the Telecommunications Act to monitor competition, development, and performance of telecommunications markets. The report presents key industry metrics and long-term trends.
*‘Endless’ or ‘Unlimited’ bundles
These uncapped data plans are not truly endless or unlimited as they are subject to fair-use terms and mobile network operators reduce customers’ data speeds after a certain amount of data has been consumed.