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Vodafone NZ clocks record data usage for New Year’s Eve

Over this New Year’s Eve, New Zealanders around the country consumed mobile data in staggering numbers, according to local telco Vodafone NZ.

According to the company, data used across Vodafone NZ’s mobile networks was up by approximately 80% compared to last year.

Vodafone New Zealand head of platforms, Sharina Nisha, says the company had been preparing for the massive surge, particularly after the 52% spike over Christmas.

However, she says this was an exceptional increase and likely due to people turning to online celebrations with family and friends overseas as a result of COVID-19.

Nationally, Vodafone customers consumed 630 terabytes (TB) of mobile data over the New Year’s Eve period, compared to 350 TB during the same period on New Years 2019/20.

Volume wise, that’s roughly equivalent to streaming 420,000 hours of high-definition video (based on 1080p at 1.5GB per hour).

Nisha says, “It’s no surprise that smartphones are now the communication method of choice, and the events of 2020 have seen us all turn to technology to continue to work, live and play remotely - and it was especially evident this New Year’s Eve as Kiwis celebrated with loved ones digitally.”

According to Vodafone NZ, Kiwis also sent a staggering number of SMS messages of New Year's cheer, with almost 1 million texts sent around midnight.

However this was a decrease of around 11% year-on-year, as people continue to turn to applications that use data such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger.

On what Vodafone did in advance of the busy period, Nisha says, “To prepare for this data surge, and ensure continued connectivity for Vodafone customers over the holiday period, throughout 2020 we’ve been adding 4G capacity in lots of areas around Aotearoa.

“We had a particular focus on upgrading our cell sites all around regional NZ - from Russell to Arrowtown, and Wanaka to Whitianga - to prepare for this bumper summer season.”

Nisha says, “We’ve also been working with popular event organisers to bring in additional mobile capacity via our cell sites on wheels (COWs), at festivals like Rhythm & Vines in Gisborne and Gibbston Valley Concert near Queenstown, as we know how important it is to be able to upload content to social media or get in touch with friends while out and about.”

Highlighting the need for event-based mobile coverage boosts, data use at Rhythm & Vines increased by 150% compared to last year, Vodafone NZ states.

Voice calls were still important however, with Vodafone NZ customers at the three day festival spending more than 200,000 minutes talking to others.