Vodafone New Zealand has provided an update on the usage of its services as New Zealand enters its second week of Alert Level 4 lockdown amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vodafone says their network traffic is peaking at between 20-100% higher than levels recorded in February this year.
Voice calls have seen the highest growth in traffic, increasing 60% since February. Usage of mobile data has increased by 20%, with fixed broadband data and Vodafone TV usage both also increasing by 20%.
The only service to have seen a drop in usage is, predictably, international roaming – plummeting 99% since February 2020.
Vodafone says it has added more capacity and has changed the way it manages voice and data traffic across the network of fibre optic cables, interconnect and peering links, international links, mobile base stations, core exchanges, security contact centres, and unified comms technologies.
Vodafone's rural broadband infrastructure is under particular strain, as it runs over a mobile connection instead of a fibre network in urban areas.
This means the company needs to keep data caps on during the day so that everyone else who relies on that same mobile cell site for connectivity can also get online for essential work or education purposes.
Vodafone's pre-pandemic traffic peak was usually 9 pm when most New Zealander's turn to video streaming or online games for their nightly entertainment.
But during lockdown, Vodafone is reporting traffic building much earlier, from 9 am onwards and increasing throughout the day, with overall data usage rising 20-30% higher than February.
Instead of talking to work colleagues in-person, people are turning to phone calls.
Voice call traffic has risen 60% in usage since February and see their traffic peak at 11am, where usage can skyrocket to 100% more than February levels.
As international travel reduces to essentially zero Vodafone has seen international roaming is down by 99%, from both an inbound and outbound perspective.
Few New Zealanders will travel overseas during the traditional winter peak period – and there will be a lack of tourists entering New Zealand using their international phone provider's agreement with Vodafone NZ, or buying a travel SIM.
The traffic update comes as Vodafone NZ last week announced further changes to their business in the wake of COVID-19, introducing new plans and measures designed to support customers during the crisis.
As part of the shift in data plans, Vodafone introduced the removal of data caps from broadband plans, no COVID-19-related disconnections or late fees, and added capacity, among other measures.