Third of Brits say their internet is performing worse during lockdown

Olivia BonitoResearch Manager
June 05, 2020, 9:33 AM UTC

Three-quarters (73%) say they’ve been using their household connection more heavily than usual – but a sizable minority have seen disruption to their service during the pandemic

The COVID-19 lockdown has made the internet even more central to the lives of Brits than it was before: new YouGov polling indicates that three-quarters (73%) have been using their household connection more than they ordinarily would – with 44% saying they use it “much more” than usual.

But with more people at home and online, could the pandemic be making it harder for Brits to do what they need to do on the internet?

Our data reveals that a third of Brits (35%) are experiencing worse internet performance than they did pre-lockdown, with 7% saying their household connection is “much worse” than before.

Which activities are most affected by the lockdown?

Among those who have noticed a decline in their internet performance, seven in ten (69%) report difficulty with general internet activity such as browsing and online shopping, while two-thirds (67%) say they’ve experienced disruption while streaming video and audio content. In March 2020, services such as Netflix reported that they were reducing image quality across Europe for 30 days in order to reduce the pandemic’s strain on internet service providers.

Our data shows that half (52%) of those who’ve had a worse internet connection have had difficulty doing work activity, and 15% say they’ve experienced “a lot” of disruption. Six in ten (59%) also say they’ve had trouble with video and audio calls – modes of communication that have become central to the workplace experience during this crisis.

With the pandemic forcing a plurality (46%) of employees to do their jobs from home at least some of the time, unstable internet connections could potentially be having knock-on effects on the country’s overall productivity.

The evidence suggests that internet performance gets worse as the number of people – and therefore the number of people accessing the internet – in a given household rises.

Four in ten (41%) of those living in homes with three or more people say their connection has deteriorated during the pandemic, increasing to 43% for those in households of four or more (with 11% saying performance is much worse versus 32% saying it’s slightly worse). While only 40% of those in households that host five people or more say their home connection has deteriorated, 15% say their connection is “much worse” than before.

See the full results here