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Broadband pressure sees people turning to mobile phones to stay online – report

Martyn Landi, PA Technology Correspondent
·2-min read

Homeworkers in the UK are turning to their mobile phones to stay online during lockdown because of extra pressure on their broadband connection, a new study suggests.

Research by telecoms giant O2 found that more than a third of people (36%) working from home and sharing their broadband with others were regularly switching to a mobile device to keep a reliable connection.

Younger people and those with children in their household were named as the groups most reliant on mobile data, with millions of people attempting to tackle homeworking, studying and homeschooling – as well as virtual socialising – on the same home broadband connection during the current lockdown.

According to the study, 28% of those asked said they had considered switching to their mobile data to make an important business call, while 47% said they had experienced stress linked to connectivity issues.

The study suggests that data has been a crucial tool for many younger people during lockdown, with many relying on it for entertainment purposes and nearly half of 18 to 24-year-olds using mobile data to socialise with others via social media.

It also found that many people are now suffering from so-called “Zoom fatigue” due to extensive use of video calling apps, and more than a quarter of those asked said they were now actively choosing to make voice calls instead.

The UK’s major telecoms firms have joined a Government scheme to offer free mobile data to schoolchildren during lockdown in an effort to reduce the strain on families unable to afford such connectivity and reduce the strain on existing home broadband connections.

Emma Evans, O2’s head of network experience, said: “Covid-19 has demonstrated that reliable mobile connectivity is essential, helping families across the UK home-school their children, stay connected to loved ones, and keep businesses across the nation up and running.

“It’s because of this that O2 is committed to its role in rebuilding Britain, and why we are investing more in our network in 2021 than ever before.”

“We are pleased that the use of mobile data is able to support families and households to get through this difficult, unprecedented time when connectivity is crucial for daily life.”