25% of people feel home broadband has worsened since pandemic began

ComReg – the Commission for Communications Regulation – has published the latest market research survey, conducted by Behaviour and Attitudes, on the impact of Covid-19 on consumer usage and satisfaction of telecommunications in Ireland.

It shows that a quarter of people feel their home broadband service has deteriorated since the start of the pandemic last year.

The final quarterly survey of 2020 details findings from data collected on broadband and mobile phone use since the Covid-19 restrictions were introduced, with a focus on those using these services to work from home.

Increase in broadband usage

Throughout the year, most consumers reported no significant drop in the quality of either home broadband or mobile services, despite increases in data usage due to Covid-19-related restrictions.

76% of respondents reported an increase in use at home, compared with 61% in April, since the start of the pandemic.

Those aged 16-24 are most likely to report an increase in nearly all online activities since March 1, especially streaming and video calling.

However, over half of over 65s report an increase in browsing the internet or reading the news online, with over a third reporting an increase in video calling, using social media, and/or shopping for essential household items online.

This trend, along with the steady increase in reported data usage across quarters, reveal the long-term impact the Covid-19 experience is having on the way Irish households use and rely on the internet.

Network adequacy

Despite anticipated network pressures, 77% of users agree that their current home broadband is adequate to meet the needs of their household.

Those over 65 are the most content with their current service. However, a quarter of users still believe their home broadband has worsened since the start of the pandemic.

Survey results reveal an increasing willingness of consumers – regardless of current service quality – to spend more on broadband for better service in 2021, especially those working from home and families with children.

ComReg commissioner Robert Mourik said: “As a result of the ongoing pandemic, we have all been relying more heavily on our telecommunications networks and services.

Our survey reveals that most people seem satisfied with their home broadband and mobile services and that telecommunications networks are coping well with the additional demand.

“It is crucial that our communications networks support the needs of families, businesses and vital services. The telecoms industry, in conjunction with ComReg, has been working to ensure networks can meet the extra demands and keep people and businesses connected,” he said.

Key trends

  • 92% of consumers value being able to access and use their home broadband and 89% value being able to access and use their mobile phone during the Covid-19 pandemic;
  • 56% of users would be willing to spend more to get better broadband service – an increase from 52% in September and from 28% in April;
  • 77% of broadband users agree that their home broadband is adequate to meet the needs of their household;
  • 77% of mobile users report no real change in the experience making or receiving voice calls or using 3G/4G data while at home during the pandemic;
  • Online shopping remains strong, with nearly half of respondents reporting an increase in shopping for both essential and non-essential items online since the start of the pandemic;
  • Adequate mobile broadband (e.g. dongle) continues to be a challenge for the 12% of workers who require it to carry out work-related activities while at home.