Analysis: Hungarians used nearly 60% more mobile internet this summer than in summer 2019, before COVID

Based on Telenor’s end-summer network report, customers generated network data traffic of more than 67 million GB and made voice calls of over 1.5bn minutes.

Coronavirus-related restrictions – and their release – as well as popular sports events impact mobile phone usage. Based on Telenor’s most recent end-summer network report, mobile internet usage has continued to rise relentlessly, while the number of voice calls was flat combined with an increase in airtime minutes. Following a huge decline in traffic in roaming zones 2 and 3 in 2020, traffic levels edged their way back to 66% of their previous level in summer 2021.

As a tradition, Telenor publishes regular reports about traffic data on its network. The report includes aggregate data about mobile data traffic on the Hipernet network, the number and average length of voice calls and roaming traffic.

Mobile internet rocks

Mobile phones are being used for more and more online activities including content consumption and content creation. Data usage on Telenor’s mobile internet network has been growing steadily for years. The total data traffic of summer months in 2021 was 16% higher than the year before and 58% higher than in 2019 which marks an over 1.5-fold increase. Total data traffic exceeded 67 million GB during the three months of summer 2021.

The summer of long calls

Based on voice data, the number of voice calls didn’t increase significantly over previous years, but the number of airtime minutes was rising which means that Telenor customers made longer voice calls on average. The reason may be the popularity of unlimited airtime tariffs that allow customers to talk without worrying about the potential extra costs incurred by a long call.

This freedom resulted in more than 1.5 bn minutes of voice calls on Telenor’s network this summer which is nearly 15% higher than in summer 2019, before the pandemic.

Summer equals travel – and roaming data with the digital Swiss army knife

When measuring roaming data traffic, one should make a distinction between EU zone 1 and zones 2 and 3. While customers can use their subscriptions under the same conditions in EU zone 1 as in Hungary, in zones 2 and 3 including distant and exotic countries, they have to pay extra for using their mobile phones.

In EU zone 1, coronavirus restrictions imposed in 2020 caused a minor decline interrupting the steady annual growth trend. In this zone, customers have made up for last year’s losses this summer. The roaming data traffic measured in zone 1 was 45% higher in summer 2021 than in summer 2019, before the pandemic. This is attributable to more data used while travelling abroad and the mobile internet traffic generated by customers using Hungarian Telenor tariffs and working in the EU.
Data traffic in zones 2 and 3 indicates that distant countries were the real losers of COVID-related travel restrictions. Between 2019 and 2020, the roaming traffic measured on Telenor’s network was down by 80%. When travel restrictions were eased up in summer 2021, more and more customers travelled to distant and exotic countries as indicated by a remarkable increase in mobile internet traffic in zones 2 and 3 from May 2021. By August 2021, traffic in these two zones reached 66% of pre COVID traffic levels.
In summary, Telenor’s end-summer network report revealed the impact of coronavirus-related restrictions on different service segments. Domestic mobile internet usage grew at a rate exceeding the annual trend. The number of voice calls was flat combined with an increase in the length of calls. In roaming, the data traffic of zones 2 and 3 was close to zero in 2020 but in 2021 it edged its way back to a promising level indicating that many Telenor customers could afford distant travels this summer.