One Year In: Data Usage Surged During Pandemic

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US Data Usage During Pandemic

The Briefing

  • In 2020, average in-home data usage in the U.S. increased by 18% compared to 2019
  • Activity reached its peak in the spring, during the initial stages of the pandemic
  • While overall consumption grew in 2020, the share of use across devices remained fairly consistent

One Year In: Data Usage Surged During COVID-19 Pandemic

Americans spent a lot of time at home last year, as offices closed, schools shut down, and cities went into full-blown lockdown in an effort to flatten the curve.

Because of this, in-home data consumption in the U.S. surged. To provide some perspective, this graphic shows the average monthly data usage in 2020 compared to 2019.

Percent Change by Month

At the start of 2020, data consumption was up 16% compared to 2019, driven largely by streaming boxes and smart TVs.

But by March (when the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic) usage had spiked, with a 28% increase compared to the year prior.

Month (2020) YoY Change
January 16%
February 16%
March 28%
April 36%
May 30%
June 14%
July 13%
August 19%
September 14%
October 11%
November 19%
December (1-27) 12%

Interestingly, March’s increase was largely driven by phones (43%), smart TVs (41%), and streaming boxes (36%), while PC/Mac consumption experienced a low increase in comparison (9%).

However, more Americans started using their PC/Macs from home in April, presumably because of the shift to remote work. From spring onward, desktop usage growth hovered at around 20-25%. And by December, PC/Mac use had grown 34% compared to the year prior.

Usage by Device

It’s worth noting that, while overall data consumption increased in 2020, people’s consumption habits didn’t change all that much.

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Disclosure: This material has been distributed for informational purposes only. It is the opinion of the author and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any ...

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